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A Look at Wind and Monarch Migration

We asked:

  • If the average monarch butterfly weighs 500 mg, how many could you cut from one sheet of paper? (Assume the paper measures 8.5 X 11 inches).


How many butterflies from one piece of paper?


11.34 butterflies


How we solved the problem:

1. We added pieces of paper to our postage scale until it reached 1 ounce. (We did not trust that our scale was sensitive enough to weigh less than one ounce.)

2. When the scale reached an ounce, we counted the number of pages and found that:

  • 1 ounce = 5 pages of paper

3. We found how to convert ounces to grams:

  • 1 ounce = 28.349 grams
  • So we knew that:
  • 5 pages of paper = 28.349 grams

4. We calculated the number of grams in one page:

  • Since 5 pages of paper = 28.349 grams
  • 1 page = 5.67 grams

5. We converted grams to milligrams

  • 1 gram = 1,000 milligrams
  • 1 page = 5670 milligrams

6. We divided weight of the page by weight of a butterfly

  • 1 page = 5670 milligrams
  • 1 butterfly = 500 milligrams
  • 5670 divided by 500 milligrams =11.34 butterflies per page

Try This!
A. Cut a piece of paper into 11 pieces so you can feel the weight of a butterfly. Fold one of the 11 scraps of paper into the shape of a butterfly. Then blow like the wind so you can see its power.

B. Find the weights (in milligrams) of other familiar things and compare them to the weight of a monarch butterfly.

  • 1 monarch butterfly tag
  • 1 teaspoon of butter
  • 1 paper clip
  • 1 M&M
  • 1 cup of cereal
  • 1 hummingbird

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