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The curriculum units are designed to educate students about the native plants and wildlife around them.  They are intended to be playful, and encourage curiosity about the world outside, beyond the soccer field or parking lot. For the teacher, they are designed to fit smoothly into their present curriculum without much (if any) revision or independent research on their part.  

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A sobering truth

​However, the idea for this project was predicated on an alarming reality.  Insects everywhere are declining at a rapid rate, faster in fact than mammals. Moths, butterflies and bees have been particularly hard hit. According to a study in the journal of Biological conservation,  the number of  butterflies has declined by more than 50% and bees by about  46%.  Links to information about the "Insect Apocalypse" is included at the bottom of the page. 

Other scientists question the overall percentage of decline since it varies widely from region to region and insect populations are harder to measure than mammals.  However, one thing they all agree on is that the trend is definitely downward and for the survival of our own species, this needs to be reversed.


One of the main reasons for the decline of insects is the loss of habitat, particularly the loss of native plants.  Insects and native plants have evolved together on the continent for millions of years.  Many of the ornamental flowers and bushes commonly found on school or home originate from other continents. Therefore, their leaves feed no caterpillars and their seeds feed no wildlife. They are "sterile."  

As a result, there are very few insects for students to observe.  Many of the previous rites of childhood - watching caterpillar walk across your hand, chasing butterflies or collecting fireflies have simply disappeared with the insects. 

The good news is that this can be changed.  We know that by planting native plants, an ecosystem can quickly be restored, even if that plot is only a few square feet.  By using native plants as part of the curriculum, we can both restore important insect habitats and reconnect the next generation with the knowledge and appreciation for the natural world.  

Links to Articles about the "Insect Apocalypse"
Graphs and Charts of Insect Decline
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