Biodiversity and Ecosystems - Butterfly Mobile

Activity Language
Grade
Time Needed for Activity
Students will learn about biodiversity and ecosystems, as well as the energy pyramid, while creating a butterfly biodiversity mobile.

Students build a butterfly biodiversity mobile and learn about biodiversity and ecosystems. The activity is followed by a 10 minute clip from the Carleton University Butterfly Show. 

What You Need

Materials if they are being dropped off at a school:

  • 18 paper butterflies per student
  • 4 pieces of string (10 inches long each) per student
  • 1 straw (to use as a stick) per student
  • 3 beads per student
  • Different colours of card stock cut into pieces of 4 different lengths (1.5 inches in diameter) for the energy pyramid - one piece of each size per student.
  • Half sheet of printed animals and plants for the energy pyramid per student
  • 1 yellow paper sun (approximately 1-1.5 inches in diameter) per student
  • PowerPoint

(Students will need glue, pencils/pens and scissors)

Materials if they are not being dropped off at the school:

  • 18 paper butterflies per student (template can be provided for butterflies); or a piece of paper to draw butterflies
  • 4 pieces of string or ribbon (10 inches long each) per student
  • 1 small stick from outside or 1 skewer per student
  • 3 beads with holes (or something with some weight to go at the end of the string) per student
  • Scrap paper or something to write on (if being completed at home, students can draw a pyramid for this)
  • Glue or Tape

Lesson plan:

PowerPoint:

Photos:

Link to video:

Butterfly Show Short Tour

Safety Notes

Ensure you are familiar with Let's Talk Science's precautions with respect to safe delivery of virtual outreach to youth. These precautions can be found in the manual for this activity. 

What To Do

Energy Pyramid:

  1. Have the educator distribute 1 piece of white card stock, 4 different sized cardstock papers for the pyramid, the 1/2 sheet of animals and plants, a sun, glue and scissors.
  2. Have the students make a pyramid shape with the cardstock pieces (smallest on top, largest on bottom). Glue the pyramid to the piece of cardstock.
  3. Using the photos, students can build their pyramid. All species in each level of the pyramid must 'belong' in the level. Don't let the students glue the animals on just yet.
  4. Give them a few moments to complete their pyramid and then run through the answers.

Butterfly Biodiversity Mobile:

  1. Cut out the 18 butterflies. They are different colours but you can put different patterns on them with pencil crayons or markers if you would like to make them more diverse.
  2. Put a little fold in the butterflies towards the center so the wings are no longer flat but the middle stays flat.
  3. Take one bead and slip it through one piece of string and tie it tightly.
  4. Choose three butterflies to add to this string.
  5. Take one paper butterfly and put glue down the centre and place it along the string.
  6. Put glue down the center of a second paper butterfly and place it over the first one on the string.
  7. Repeat until you have 3 butterflies on one string.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7 twice so you have 3 strings of butterflies.
  9. Tie each string to the stick trying to balance the strings across the stick/straw.
  10. Tie a fourth string to the top of the stick in a loop (a triangle shape will help balance the stick/straw) and hang your mobile. If it isn't balanced, slide the strings until it hangs straight.

Now that the students have completed their butterfly biodiversity mobile, you can play the Carleton University Butterfly Show video.

 

Discovery

Investigate Further

If students are interested, you can begin a discussion on how humans are impacting ecosystems, energy flow and the species within ecosystems:

  • Residential and commercial development
  • Overfishing
  • Overharvesting crops
  • Pollution (e.g., plastics, oil spills. chemicals from factories, etc.)
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture (e.g., change land from a forest to farm land, use of pesticides, etc.)

Investigate Further

If students are interested, you can begin a discussion on how humans are impacting ecosystems, energy flow and the species within ecosystems:

  • Residential and commercial development
  • Overfishing
  • Overharvesting crops
  • Pollution (e.g., plastics, oil spills. chemicals from factories, etc.)
  • Forestry
  • Agriculture (e.g., change land from a forest to farm land, use of pesticides, etc.)

Resources

Lesson plan:

PowerPoint:

Photos:

Link to video:

Butterfly Show Short Tour

Check out additional resources (articles, career profiles and more) on these topics from Let’s Talk Science: