The campus teems with excitement as the first Monarch chrysalises are discovered outside the Art Building. Vibrant green and bejeweled with flecks of gold, the beauty of the chrysalises is rivaled by the beauty of the adult Monarch butterfly and the majestic black, yellow and white striped caterpillars munching on the milkweed in the gardens. Within hours the Kindergarten and 1st Grade have created colorful signs displaying caterpillar and butterfly art to protect and announce the arrival of these amazing creatures. Throughout the next few days there is rarely a moment without a group of children sitting near the garden watching, sketching, observing and wondering at the final stages of transformation of the Monarch butterfly.
Art classes of all levels were inspired by the dramatic colors and shapes of the Monarch in its varying stages of development. Science students observed the caterpillars voraciously eating leaves. They wondered at the process of how a chrysalis was formed. Thanks to the keen and careful observations of the students, several classes witnessed the final shedding of the caterpillar’s skin as it revealed its chrysalis form.
In addition to providing an exciting example of the miraculous complexity and amazing beauty of our natural world, the arrival of the Monarchs have spurred discussions of animal behavior, ecology, entomology, biochemistry, physics and environmental stewardship.