The fourth grade students at Moore Magnet Elementary, in Clarksville, TN, have been studying the decline of the monarch butterfly population. Tennessee is home to monarch butterflies when they return from their two-way migration pattern. While researching monarch butterflies, the students have been trying to answer the essential question, “How can we at Moore Magnet Elementary use the resources we have to help sustain the monarch butterfly population?” The solution the students came up with was to build butterfly habitats that will keep the butterflies safe from predators and provide a home the butterflies can return to year after year.
The staff at Moore Magnet Elementary contacted General Insulation Company and asked if our Fabrication Facility in Nashville, TN would be interested in partnering with the students for their Monarch Butterfly Project. We thought this would be a great way to collaborate with students and give back to the community, as a portion of our business stems from providing building materials for the construction of schools. Moore Magnet Elementary School is a STEM school, which means curriculum is focused around integrating science, technology, engineering and math. General’s Fabrication Shop uses most, if not all, of these subjects on a daily basis to design, quote, and fabricate parts for our customers in the insulation industry.
Ben Swartzfager, GIC Operation Manager-Nashville FAB, spent a day at Moore Magnet Elementary helping students build three different butterfly habitats. Throughout the building process, Ben informed the students about GIC history, told them a little bit about what we do, and explained how our products are used in buildings like the students’ elementary school. Ben was also able to explain how, like the students trying to protect the butterflies, the insulation industry helps protect our environment by lowering energy demands. In addition, the students learned about the building process, the tools they used, and were even tested on some math problems that arose during the building process. Ben worked with three different fourth grade classes, each class with their own design. The students provided input and voted on aspects such as the size, shape, design, and how to assemble the habitat. The students were graded on their step-by-step instructions of how to build the habitat. The students also drew models as if they were building it themselves in order to inspire their own creativity. The habitats will be on display at the STEM Expo in May at Austin Peay State University before being placed in the elementary school’s outdoor classroom.
In conclusion, the students had a great time participating and seeing their vision become a reality. We at GIC fully agree with those sentiments and hope to be involved in next year’s project. Staff members thanked General Insulation for our participation and walked away knowing the students gained an authentic hands-on learning experience that some of the students would not have experienced otherwise. Hopefully this partnership helped train another generation of individuals that we will see in the construction industry as future customers or maybe even GIC employees!