FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Michele McLeod (202) 879-9652
Karen Leichtweis (202) 879-9641
or Elizabeth Donnelly (612) 476-6470
Mexican Students Send Thousands of Paper Butterflies to the U.S. and Canada
Internet-based project connects students to global environment
Editor's advisory: On Tuesday, April 1, UPS will ship the butterfly packages from the air cargo facility at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. A send-off party will be held at the Papalote Museo del Niņo of local public school students who have participated in the Journey North Project from 12 noon to 2 on Tuesday, April 1.
More than 40,000 elementary and middle school students from Mexico City with the help of UPS will give flight to thousands of paper butterflies carrying goodwill and a lesson on the global environment to U.S. and Canadian students. This symbolic "migration" is part of an on-line environmental science education project called Journey North.
Journey North (http://www.learner.org) engages more than 55,000 students and their teachers, in global study of wildlife migration and seasonal change. This symbolic monarch butterfly migration helps students map the annual journey of the monarch, one of the most dramatic "road trips" of the animal kingdom. Each year, monarchs from the U.S. and Canada embark on a long trip to Mexico, some traveling up to 2,500 miles. Their spring migration is now underway, and being tracked by Journey North students daily over the Internet. According to these butterfly trackers, monarchs are now flooding into the U.S., and have arrived in Texas and Louisiana.
"Thousands of students are anxiously awaiting the return of the new generation of 40,000 paper monarchs from Mexico, as well as watching for the living monarchs that will arrive with spring," reports Elizabeth Donnelly, coordinator of the Journey North program. These students sent their own paper butterflies to Mexico last November, during the fall migration. All winter, at the Papalote Museo del Niņo, (Children's Museum in Mexico City) the education staff worked with local schools to create a new generation of monarchs to send back to schoolchildren in the U.S. and Canada. Each monarch carries a special message from the Mexican students to the students in Canada and U.S. who made them.
United Parcel Service (UPS), the world's largest transportation company, will provide transportation for the butterflies on their final leg of the trip, when they depart Mexico City International Airport for the Science Museum of Minnesota on Wednesday, April 2, 1997.
"In a personal way, the paper butterflies symbolize the importance of preserving the fragile habitats of the monarch butterflies and give students an opportunity to call attention to important conservation issues," explained Martha Sanchez.
"Clearly, the wonder of monarch migration touches people deeply. And their involvement is important, because this migration isn't one we can take for granted," explained Donnelly. "Scientists fear it may not last beyond the next decade, due to deforestation of the monarchs' wintering grounds. Through this project, students are finding that migratory species depend on international cooperation."
The symbolic butterfly migration project is conducted in partnership with Papalote, Museo del Niņo (Children's Museum of Mexico City), the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) and United Parcel Service (UPS). Funding for Journey North is provided by The Annenberg Media Math and Science Project and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
For more information about this project and to see pictures of 40,000 paper butterflies and track their migration visit Journey North's WWW site at: http://www.learner.org