Ten students from a school in St. Paul, Minn., left their scarves and gloves at home in favor of nets when they went to study monarch butterflies in the mountain ranges of Mexico in February.
The students and two teachers from the 1,420-student Humboldt middle and senior high school complex visited the Sierra Campanario region in central Mexico to help William Calvert, a professor of zoology at the University of Texas, research the butterflies.
Humboldt students have been studying monarchs for three years, since school science teachers Erin Layde and Kate Augatnbaugh put together the project for their 7th and 8th grade general science classes.
During those three years, students at Humboldt participated in the construction of a butterfly garden at the middle school and worked with the universities of Minnesota and Texas on research.
Ms. Layde said that it was during a field trip last year to the University of Texas to visit Mr. Calvert that plans began for the trip to Mexico. The school received a grant from the St. Paul Roosevelt District for half the cost of the trip, and students raised money for the rest.
While visiting the monarch colonies for two full days, students worked on three research projects, devised questions and experiments, and collected data.
"It was a lot easier to do the research there," said Jenny Lunsman, an 8th grader at Humboldt. "It made you feel like you were part of something real rather than just sitting in the back of a lab with a bunch of kids."
Students also visited two schools in Angangueo and Agua Blanca, where they distributed school supplies.
"The kids tried to talk to us even though they couldn't speak English," said 8th grader Tamika Foster-Dixon.
The students will now begin an outreach project by showing their slides and videos to area schools and holding a "monarch fair" to present the results of their research.
Vol. 19, Issue 25, Page 3Published in Print: March 1, 2000, as Take Note