Print this page

Build A Butterfly

How Much Dirt Does it Take To Get A Butterfly Off The Ground?
(To Build A Butterfly Garden)



Roy C. Watkins

Camden-Fairview Junior High School

Earth Science Teacher


This problem-solving lesson is useful in exploring the connections between mathematics and science as well as actually getting a start on your own butterfly garden  at your school.  With this garden, your school could be part of a wonderful opportunity to help monitor the Monarch’s Journey North and South each year. 

There are web sites included that can be explored during the lesson to aid students with the conversions between the Metric and English systems as well as common formulas for area and volume.

  1. provide the basics for most of the formulas needed.

  2. provides moreinformation on the necessary formulas.

  3. provides a unit converter for students to check their work.

  4.  provides another unit converter for students to check their work.

I hope that you will make use of this project and have as much fun getting your butterfly off the ground as I did making it.


Calculate the volume of dirt required to fill the beds of the designated sizes in cubic yards.

The students will be able to utilize both technological and traditional problem solving techniques in this lesson.  A link and the  list of the Arkansas frameworks, both in Mathematics and Science that I found applicable, are found below.


Background - Familiarize students with formulas and system/unit conversions needed and how to measure large objects with size limited instruments. 

  1. Organize students into groups of 3 students: data collector, assistant data collector and data recorder/timekeeper    5 minutes

  2. Each group will draw a sketch of the garden while observing the garden.  Once the overall sketches are completed, divide each bed, on paper, into easier shapes (squares and triangle).    10 minutes

  3. Each group needs to identify the necessary formulas to be used.  Area formula times (*) depth for each shape equals (=) volume.               **These are required to understand which measurements are needed. **   10 minutes

  4. Students are given materials to measure the beds.   5 minutes

  5. Allow students to collect data: length, width and depth (an average depth will be required) of each bed.  ** The interior of each bed length and width is necessary, not the outside. **
    Allow a maximum of 15 minutes to gather necessary data.  Remind the students that each member needs to have all the information after the collection of data is complete.
    ** Assume that the two large wing beds are the same size and the two smaller wing beds are the same size.  This will allow for more groups to work without conflict. **

  6. Have students perform calculations per their previous plan.  Depending on time constraints, students may be assigned this as homework or continue in class at a later time.

  7. Students should present their solutions to the class to allow them the opportunity to see and experience the myriad of solutions possible.

My solution is included in the reflection.

Materials needed

Items needed per group

  • (1) Meter stick

  • (2) rulers

  • Paper

  • colored and writing pencils

  • calculator (as needed)

  • string (made available as needed)

  • watch/clock (time management)

  • formulas (see project page)

Previous page: Actaap Webquests
Next page: Student Work

uggs black friday foamposites for sale beats by dre black friday uggs black friday monlcer outlet lebron 11 uggs black friday gamma blue 11s air jordan pas cher Michael Kors Black Friday Moncler Outlet