The award-winning giant screen film Flight of the Butterflies (SK Films) was the perfect programming complement to the butterfly garden at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, Florida, US, and “Butterfly Boogie” was the perfect educational program to go with it.
The 45-minute “Butterfly Boogie” program, which was made available to school groups either before or after the film, took place in MOSI’s butterfly garden so students could experience monarchs and the butterfly life cycle not only in the movie, but also in real life. MOSI’s education department made sure to link the program to state standards so teachers could connect it to their curriculum. During the program, participants learned about the characteristics, habitats and lifecycle of caterpillars and butterflies; compared and contrasted moths and butterflies; and created their own butterfly made from coffee filters and pipe cleaners to take home with them.
An announcement after each public screening also invited the general public to visit the butterfly garden, where they were provided information on how to create their own butterfly garden at home.
A number of departments within MOSI cooperated to create “Butterfly Boogie.” The education department developed the hands-on program. Education then worked with the outdoors coordinator, who manages the butterfly garden, to make sure classroom space in the garden was coordinated, that the program content was accurate, and that there was access to the live specimens. Education also worked with the IMAX scheduling department to ensure the movie was shown at an optimal time of the day for field trips.
Though MOSI did not tally the number of guests who visited the butterfly garden directly as a result of the film, anecdotally, MOSI staff says many of their guests did take advantage of the opportunity to visit the butterfly garden. Located on the way to the parking lot, it was impossible for visitors pass on a stop at the garden after the film and explore monarchs in person after watching the film. Feedback from school groups that participated in “Butterfly Boogie” was overwhelmingly positive about the experience.
Scheduling is always difficult with large groups of students who have a limited time during their field trip. Since “Butterfly Boogie” was a hands-on program, there was a limit of 30 students per 45-minute session. To participate in the movie and the hands-on program was a two-hour block, so it was challenging to fit everything in their day if a school group was too large.
Funding education programs is also a challenge. “It would be great to have a grant to pay for the program so we can offer it free to groups,” says Janet White, Director of Education Operations at MOSI. “Flight of the Butterflies was a natural connection to a resource we already have on site. Other movies we may have to look elsewhere to find additional resources to provide the hands-on experiences.”
Despite the challenges, MOSI tries to offer an accompanying program whenever possible. “By pairing a film with educational activities,” says White, “we are able to delve deeper and provide hands-on experiences to complement the movie.”
If you would like to know more about MOSI’s “Butterfly Boogie” program, please contact Janet White, Director of Education Operations, Museum of Science and Industry, Tampa, FL, 813-987-6329, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To access the educator materials that SK Films developed for Flight of the Butterflies, visit http://www.flightofthebutterflies.com/in-the-classroom/