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MonarchLIVE—A Distance Learning Adventure

A map that shows the monarch butterfly migration path from the United States down to a single point in southern Mexico

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MonarchLIVE—A Distance Learning Adventure

Complete program information, teacher resources and live and archived broadcasts can be found at the MonarchLIVE Web site at http://monarch.pwnet.org

MonarchLIVE Flyer - English

MonarchLIVE Flyer - en Español

The annual migration cycle of the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is one of the most spectacular events in the insect world. Every year, millions of delicate but hardy monarchs migrate thousands of miles from Canada and the United States to over-winter in just 12 mountain peaks in Michoacán, Mexico. This magical journey has also been deemed an “endangered natural phenomenon.” Monarchs and their migration are dependent on conservation of habitats in all three North American countries – United States, Canada and Mexico.

Description of the animation below; this is a time lapse sequence of a monarch butterfly caterpillar turning into a green chrysalis with gold and black spots.

MonarchLIVE—A Distance Learning Adventure will bring the magic of monarchs and their migration to school children throughout the Western Hemisphere. Through a series of live, interactive, web-based broadcasts and a rich website, the program will help students learn about monarch life history, citizen science and what students can do to help monarchs.

The project is available free to classrooms, and resources are provided in both English and Spanish. While the core audience is Grades 4-8, the project provides a wide range of extensions that will support both younger and older students’ participation. More than 400,000 children across the country will participate throughout the 2008-2009 school year.

Description of the animation below; this is a time lapse sequence of an adult monarch butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, and stretching and drying its orange, black and white wings.

MonarchLIVE is built upon three foundational principles:

  1. Kids should understand monarchs and their conservation needs. Monarch education should be based on the best-available science. It should be interdisciplinary and correlated to standards of learning.

  2. Kids should learn outside. There is no substitute for being outside and experiencing nature first-hand. This project uses technology as a tool, not as an end in itself. Technology will bring distant lands to kids living in Canada, the United States and Mexico—but it also encourages and supports kids’ interest in investigating their local environment.

  3. Kids should take action in their own ‘backyard’. Kids need to see how they can make a difference. The project encourages citizen-science and the creation of schoolyard habitats. These components translate knowledge into action, and help teach the skills needed for budding conservation stewards.

A monarch butterfly resting on a large leaf

The project integrates distance-learning methods with hands-on outdoor activities that encourage students to create wildlife habitats and investigate their own schoolyards. Throughout the 2008-2009 school year, teachers will also be able to take their students on virtual field trips and participate in live webcasts, satellite broadcasts and webchats. The project will underscore the efforts of K-12 teachers and students, scientists and citizens to document, understand, and protect this incredible insect. Scientists and conservationists will conduct lesson plans on site so that students may learn about the monarch butterfly’s annual life cycle of breeding, migrating and overwintering.

In February 2009, students will be able to take a virtual field trip to the Mexican mountains to see the butterflies’ overwintering habitat in the first-ever live broadcast from that area.  Biologists and local people who work to protect this rare habitat will talk about their research and conservation efforts.  Other broadcasts and webcasts will be held in May 2009 to discuss inner city butterfly gardens, monarch summer behavior and population growth, and conservation efforts in Canada.

Join MonarchLIVE! in this magical and mysterious journey!


  1. MonarchLIVE! Kick-off (Woodbidge, VA) -- Friday, October 10, 2008; 12 - 1 p.m., Eastern Time
  2. Mexican Mountain Habitat (Michoacan, MX)  -- Tuesday, February 17, 2009; 12 - 1 p.m., Eastern Time
  3. Community Conservation in Mexico (Michoacan, MX) -- Thursday, February 19, 2009; 12 - 1 p.m. Eastern Time
  4. Little Spaces; Big Results (Chicago, IL) -- Tuesday, May 19, 2009; 12 - 1 p.m., Eastern Time 
  5. Building the Population/Monarchs in Summer (Mineapolis, MN) -- Thursday, May 21, 2009; 12 - 1 p.m., Eastern Time
  6. Monarchs in Canada (Point Pelee, Canada) -- Thursday, May 28, 2009; 12 - 1 p.m., Eastern Time

Monarch Video

This is a text description of the video below. This two-minute video explains the MonarchLive Distance Learning education project. The video has scenes of excited school children learning about monarch butterflies, and celebrating their migration. The children are dressed in butterfly wings and deely-bopper antennae as they hold monarchs and release them. The video then has scenes from the mountains in Mexico where the butterflies spend their winter. The skies are full of fluttering butterflies, and close-ups of pine boughs reveal that they are smothered in the orange and black butterflies. Mexican communities near the butterfly reserves are shown, and community members are profiled. The video has scenes from a butterfly garden full of flowers, in Chicago, the site of the May broadcasts. Green, white and black striped monarch caterpillars munch on a milkweed leaf at the Monarch Lab in Minnesota. The video ends with excited children releasing monarch butterflies, as the narrator encourages viewers to join the adventure.

Video length 2:00 minutes

US Forest Service
Last modified March 28, 2013

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