If you haven't had enough butterflying yet, there are many possible avenues of extension for this project.
1. Experimental Research. Now that students understand the importance of observational research in science, this is the perfect point at which to use those observations as the basis of experimental research on butterflies. Replacement larvae are not very expensive, now that you have the equipment set up. You could work with a student's hypothesis based on the previous butterfly observations (i.e., testing the growth rates in cold and warm environments, the effect on adult development of turning the chrysalis upside down), or use a completely different topic that would tie in with your current unit.
2. Raising Butterflies. Instead of allowing the newborn caterpillars to die, challenge students to design a survival plan. Can all the caterpillars be saved, or will some have to be sacrificed for the good of the others? Food meal can be ordered from Carolina, or the students may attempt to raise a few caterpillars exclusively on their host plants. If this extension is chosen, it must be introduced before the eggs hatch, so that students have time to formulate a plan.
3. Endangered Species Recovery Plan. If students are interested in endangered butterfly species, they could research the life history for a species, and with their new-found knowledge about the butterfly life cycle, create a plan for this particular species.
4. Butterfly Garden. Students learned about host plants in this research project. Challenge them to create a plan for a butterfly garden that would attract many different species in the area. They would need to research different local butterfly species and their host plants. They could choose a location for the garden at their school, or another local site. This would be an excellent group project, utilizing skills unique to different students. Certain students could develop a landscape layout for the garden, other students could be in charge of raising funds to pay for the plants, etc. The following is an excellent web resource compiled by the USGS for the butterflies of North America:
The following map will allow you to discover the butterfly species living in your own county:
5.Use your imagination! As Albert Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Encourage kids to be thoughtful and creative, and discuss ideas with them about extensions for the butterfly project.
THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT