YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
How can you inspire kids—of all ages—to embark on a lifelong adventure that will motivate them to become wise stewards of nature? In my presentation to Mrs. Geri Evan's fourth grade students at Bluff Park Elementary School, I began by inviting kids to hunt for ecological mysteries in their outdoor classroom.
DISCOVER AND SOLVE AN ECOLOGICAL MYSTERY
"To sunshine, clear water, and sparkling skies and to the kids who are cleaning up the Earth.” Jean Craighead George
How can educators launch a PROJECT-BASED LEARNING project that will inspire students to do in-depth investigation and to apply what they have learned to make a difference in the real world? Here’s how I launched projects about eco mysteries for Melissa Foster’s third graders at Creek View Elementary in Maylene, Alabama, and Robin Gillespie’s fifth and sixth graders, at Oak Mountain Intermediate School in Decatur, Alabama.
To arouse the students’ curiosity, I planned the event to be novel and dramatic. My presentation encouraged students to generate questions that plunge them into an intriguing ecological mystery they must solve in order to help save an endangered species. To begin, I dressed up as Mrs. Margarita Mariposa, a character in The Adventures of The Sizzling Six: Monarch Mysteries (Book Six in the series). I donned a striking mask with flowers and butterflies and tossed a paper monarch butterfly into the air.
For decades scientists have puzzled over of how monarch butterflies navigate over 2,500 miles from breeding sites across the eastern United States to overwintering sanctuaries in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Now researchers at UMass Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute seem to have solved the puzzle. Monarchs use a magnetic sun compass in their antenna to help them make find their way home! As the fall progresses monarchs will start to migrate south from Canada on their way to Mexico —so watch out for Monarchs in your area.