Maryland Science Center’s comprehensive educator workshop to support the film Flight of the Butterflies (SK Films) was instrumental in building awareness of the film among teachers and the general public, encouraging monarch-related citizen science efforts, and providing film viewers with additional information and resources to extend learning well beyond the science center visit and film screening.

Program Elements

The NSF-funded Flight of the Butterflies program featured a series of 13 day-long educator workshops, four conducted at the Maryland Science Center (MSC) and nine at National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) regional conferences around the U.S. In addition to a screening of the film, each workshop included demonstrations of classroom activities covering the migration and life-cycle of monarch butterflies, as well as the opportunity for teachers to handle live monarch specimens at each life stage (which often resulted in adult monarchs flying around the room).

MSC also developed a series of banner exhibits consisting of pop-up type displays highlighting migration, the monarch’s life cycle and unique features, and citizen science endeavors. MSC produced 18 sets of the banners and made them available at no cost to theaters for the duration of their run of the film. Eighteen traveling trunks filled with materials to be used in museums/theaters in classroom settings, workshops, or floor activities were also made available at no cost to theaters running the film.

An educator guide, available in English or Spanish, provided links to monarch content and classroom activities and was available online and as a printed piece.

MSC was fortunate to have on its education staff an experienced monarch educator who had developed and delivered monarch programs in different venues for at least 20 years. She provided a wealth of background information on monarchs, as well as knowledge of monarch education initiatives and educational materials. The marketing department provided the graphics design expertise to develop the banners and the educator guide.



All parts of the program were well received, but perhaps the most successful in terms of individual contact were the educator workshops, where teachers benefited from hands-on experiences with monarchs across the life cycle. The banners and traveling trunks proved successful in that they provided ready-made experiences for theaters that could be utilized immediately with no advance preparation or research.

Independent evaluation of the banners and trunks indicated that theaters were delighted to have ready-made materials to extend the learning opportunities of the film, and written evaluations conducted with teachers at the conclusion of each workshop showed across-the-board satisfaction with the presentations and activities. Theaters invariably expressed gratitude for the trunks and banners, with one theater educator saying, “Please do this for all films.”

Thanks to previous NSF grants, MSC had developed similar programs for the films Dinosaurs Alive and The Human Body. Building on the experience gained from those and The Flight of the Butterflies program, MSC has been able to repeat some of these successes with a current NASA grant about solar science.

For more information about this program, please contact:

Jim O’Leary
Maryland Science Center, Baltimore


To access the educator materials that SK Films developed for Flight of the Butterflies, visit