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What Effect does Gravity have on Butterfly Larvae Frass? Mrs. Hicks’ Second Grade Class Study East End Elementary, 21801 Arch St., Little Rock, AR 72206 What Effect Does Gravity have on Butterfly Larvae Frass?

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What Effect does Gravity have on Butterfly Larvae Frass?

Mrs. Hicks’ Second Grade Class Study

East End Elementary, 21801 Arch St., Little Rock, AR 72206

What Effect Does Gravity have on Butterfly Larvae Frass?

This project provided an excellent opportunity for second grade students to be introduced to the scientific method, recording methods of empirical data, and cover student learning expectations for the nature of science, physical science, earth science and life science.

Although a number of good questions were proposed, the most popular was: What effect does gravity have on butterfly larvae poop also called “frass”?

The class was shown pictures of the ground and space based experiments and made observations about what the larva, pupae and adults were doing differently in each experiment. This was also a good question to tie in with animal life cycles and functions. The question also encouraged the students to think about all forms of matter and the effects of gravity. The hypothesis was predicted that the “frass” in the classroom habitat would fall to the bottom of the habitat because of Earth’s gravity. This is an important question in that it helps scientists and engineers determine how best to manage waste on earth as well as in space.

Results

The students compared pictures of the ISS habitat with their own drawings to determine the difference of the frass appearance in space and on Earth. The frass was observed to remain at the bottom of the habitat on earth but was seen floating on the ISS. Size comparison and growth rate of each larva is graphed below. They also observed and recorded that the larva had spun some silk fibers on 2 school days that were missed because of weather conditions.

Discussion of Results and Conclusions

From observations of the classroom habitat and the pictures of the habitat on the ISS, the students concluded that their hypothesis predicted correctly the frass in the classroom would stay at the bottom of the habitat because of Earth’s gravity. This was supported by the fact that no frass was observed floating in the classroom habitat as opposed to that seen on the ISS.

The students also concluded that butterfly larva “A” had grown 13 mm longer because it’s initial size upon arrival was longer at 5 mm, as compared with butterfly larva “B” size who’s initial size was 3 mm.

Methods

We received two Painted Lady larvae and placed them in a clamshell habitat. Larva food was shipped with the larva and placed in two small coffee creamer containers to supply them with food and moisture. Students used science journals to record daily observations of the larva growth and frass.

They compared our larva with pictures from the space project. Each larva was measured daily using rulers to estimate the daily growth of each in millimeters. Data was graphed.

In groups of 3-4 students, observations were made about larva and frass appearance over the course of the 10 days. Students also did research on gravity, mass and weight, Painted Lady butterflies life cycles, and the International Space Station (ISS). The students drew and labeled diagrams of a pupa and adult butterfly.

References

Born to be a Butterfly: Wallace, Karen” DK Readers, 2000

Butterflies! Discover the ever changing world of these colorful insects!, Editors of TIME for Kids, Time-Life Pub., 2006

Caterpillar Diary, Drew, David, Reed Pub., 1996

Force and Motion, Parker, Lewis, Perfection Learning Corp., 2006

Gravity is a Mystery, Branly, Franklin, Crowell Jr. Books, 1986

In the Sky, The Planets, Ryback, Carol, Weekly Reader Early Learning Library, 2006

Spacelab, Fradin, Dennis B. , Regensteiner Publishing, 1984

Acknowledgments

Cathy, Cate Gentry’s mom, supplied the larva, habitat and technical support.