Patrick Hamilton witnessing butterfly transformation
Published 8:00 am Friday, May 1, 2015
A radical transformation is in progress inside Patrick Hamilton Elementary’s media center.
More specifically, the metamorphosis is taking place inside a small, two-foot tall tube situated near the library’s back wall.
For last several weeks, students visiting the library have witnessed a group of tiny caterpillars embark on the journey into the next stage of their lives. Since arriving last Monday, the butterfly larvae have went from small caterpillars, engorging themselves to nearly 10 times their original length, into hard chrysalises, where they are slowly transforming into the familiar flying insects.
“I want to see a big butterfly,” said Elizabeth Walton, a fifth-grade student watching the cocooned insects Thursday morning.
For Patrick Hamilton Media Specialist Donna Batty, the sight of wonderment and curiosity etched on children’s faces while they see the insects’ maturation is not an unfamiliar one.
Batty has been purchasing the specially made insect farms for the library for last several years, carrying forward the tradition from the old McKinley building, she said. This year, the set she ordered contains several dozen Painted Lady Butterfly larvae, which also comes with food for the insects.
The annual project is something that many Patrick Hamilton students look forward to, often bouncing into the library to see how the caterpillars are growing, Batty said.
“It’s something they normally wouldn’t be able to see out in the real world,” she said.
On Thursday, Batty also showed kids a video about the stages of a butterfly’s life, to help reinforce the lesson the project is meant to demonstrate.
The transformation process goes by pretty quickly, with this year’s batch of insects likely emerging from their shells by early next week, Batty said. Once they do, kids will be able to witness the small creatures slowly dry their new wings before they can take their first flight.
“They’re really pretty when they hatch,”
Once the bugs are ready, a group of fifth-grade students will have the chance to take them outside and let them fly away. This exercise is another tradition the school has had, giving the soon to be departing students another memory before they continue their own transformation into middle school students, Batty said.
“They’ve seen [the caterpillars] every year since they were little, so they are looking forward to finally seeing them fly off,” Batty said.