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Students Learn About Life Cycles Ahead Of Sunday At The Sanctuary Event



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Reed Intermediate School students attending this weekend’s Sunday at the Sanctuary event — set for September 22 at the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary (CVHAS) — will recognize some familiar wings.

As an extension of last school year’s sixth grade “State of the Meadow” projects and the ongoing local effort to create pollinator gardens in conjunction with Protect Our Pollinators (POP), Reed has been home to monarch butterfly eggs since the start of the school year.

CVHAS educator Henryk Teraszkiewicz has also been speaking with third grade students across the district about life cycles.

It is all leading to the September 22 Sunday at the Sanctuary “Bees, Beetles, Butterflies, and Blossoms — A Day of Pollination” event, from noon to 3 pm, at the sanctuary property, at the end of Old Farm Road. A description for the event reads, “This year we will be mindful for more monarchs than ever as we tag and release both the sanctuary’s butterflies and those that have been raised by the fifth and sixth graders of Reed Intermediate School in Newtown. Our monarch expert, Sandy Schill, will show participants how to carefully catch and tag the butterflies for Project Monarch Watch and send them on their long migration to a single mountain in Mexico. Create and keep plantable wildflower butterflies out of recycled paper and native wildflower seeds with the team from EverWonder Children’s Museum.”

Monarch Magic author Lynn Rosenblatt is also set to be at the event. Live bees, samplings of honey, and crafts for kids to create native bee houses will be onsite. Local children who bring their own electronic device will also be able to use the iNaturalist app to take pictures and identify and uncover hidden beetle life in the sanctuary’s meadows with Western Connecticut State University Professor of Etymology Dr Rayda Krell and her students. Attendees will also learn about the importance of planting native flowers that support pollinators with representatives of POP, according to an announcement for the event.

“Help the restoration of the sanctuary’s newest meadow area by creating native wildflower seed balls, and then launch them hundreds of yards with The Pollinator, the sanctuary’s giant slingshot!” the announcement reads.

Reed’s Science Club, under the direction of advisors Reed teacher Peter Bernson and Reed Science Coach Todd Stentiford, began unearthing invasive species of plants in Reed’s center courtyard last school year to create a pollinator garden, with assistance from the school’s Gardening Club. The students used the iNaturalist app as part of the effort.

Ms Schill collected monarch eggs for Reed clusters to foster in advance of the Sunday at the Sanctuary event. She coordinated the project with Mr Teraszkiewicz. There were enough eggs that Mr Stentiford said they were stationed “almost everywhere [students] go” in the school. Thanks to the number of eggs, the entire school witnessed the following transitions in the monarch life-cycle.

By September 16, dark green chrysalises hung inside the mesh protective structures that will soon be a temporary home for the monarch butterflies. A dark green coloring on the outside of a chrysalis, Ms Schill pointed out, is a sign the butterfly is ready to emerge. Some butterflies were also ready to be released on September 16, so Ms Schill, Mr Stentiford, and Reed teacher Jessica O’Connell made their way to the school’s courtyard. There — surrounded by the Science Club and Gardening Club’s growing efforts to create a pollinator garden — Ms Schill tagged and released three monarch butterflies, two females and a male. After the three pairs of orange and black wings fluttered between green plants, Ms Schill took careful notes for Monarch Watch.

Mr Stentiford said the effort works perfectly with many of the school’s life-flow standards. Reed students, he observed, are literally learning the “butterfly effect,” by seeing how one small change can, hopefully in this case, have a ripple effect on an entire ecosystem.

Third Graders Get The Scoop

Earlier on September 16, Mr Teraszkiewicz opened a large white cooler to teach third grade students at Head O’ Meadow Elementary School about life-cycles. As an earthy smell expanded throughout the science room, Mr Teraszkiewicz scooped out mud from the depth of the water within the cooler. Students then worked in groups to carefully find and identify types of life living within the mud.

Mr Teraszkiewicz described the lesson as “a magic discovery of all the things in life that go unseen.”

Before the third graders dug in with plastic utensils, Mr Teraszkiewicz spoke to the group about life-cycles and about CVHAS, “that, big beautiful piece of land behind Reed.”

“Any living thing can have a life cycle,” Mr Teraszkiewicz said.

The students also learned about metamorphosis.

“Insects are the kings and queens of metamorphosis,” said Mr Teraszkiewicz.

Later, as students uncovered different types of life within the mud, Mr Teraszkiewicz had them use guides to determine what they found.

“We think we found a centipede!” one student excitedly yelled to get Mr Teraszkiewicz attention.

“All kinds of things could be in there,” Mr Teraszkiewicz said.

At the CVHAS, Mr Teraszkiewicz told the students, people can learn about everything to do with the outdoors, science, and “mostly about animals and how to be kind.”

To learn more about CVHAS and its upcoming events, see the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation’s website, cvhfoundation.org.

A tagged monarch butterfly perches on Sandy Schill’s hand on September 16, before it flapped away. —Bee Photos, Hallabeck
Head O’ Meadow third graders Nick Michael and Gavin Merrifield work together kindly as they uncover hidden life in mud on September 16.
Head O’ Meadow third grader Keelie Ferriter is fearless as she carefully finds life in mud on September 16.
Sandy Schill, Reed Science Coach Todd Stentiford, and Reed teacher Jessica O'Connell prepare to release monarch butterflies at Reed on September 16.
CVHAS educator Henryk Teraszkiewicz talks with Head O’ Meadow Elementary School students on September 16 about monarch butterflies.
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