Outreach & Collaborations

In order to share our research results and to educate the local children and adults on butterfly flight, we offer educational programs that can either be held in classrooms or in our lab. We will also be participating in several educational programs on the Monarch butterflies held annually in the southeast.

Furthermore, we collaborate with the Huntsville Botanical Garden on a broad outreach program. Our research on the flight of butterflies will be highlighted in a display in the Purdy Butterfly House located in the garden. The Purdy Butterfly House is the largest open-aired butterfly house in the nation, hosting 2,300 butterflies in 2015. Huntsville Botanical Garden has a certified Monarch Waystation consisting of butterfly host and nectar plants that are necessary for migrating Monarchs. In 2013, more than 225,000 people visited the garden. You can find more information about Huntsville Botanical garden and the Purdy Butterfly House by clicking the link: HSVBG Website

Dr. Kang, Misty Hertzig, Soozi Pline, Brittany Greene, Madhu Sridhar, and Dr. Landrum. Presenting the outreach poster displayed in the Huntsville Botanical Garden Nature Center. April 2016.

Presentation on butterflies at professional advancement class for second grade teachers hosted at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, June 2016.

Dr. Landrum presenting at the Huntsville Botanical Garden, June 2016.

Opportunities

If you are interested in our research outreach program, please let us know by sending an email to:     ck0025@uah.edu.

We use motion tracking cameras to make models of butterfly flights, so that we may understand exactly how butterflies fly.  An outreach participation program can for example involve any of these steps.
  • The Monarchs are shipped to us by reputable breeders on cold packs, which slows the butterflies' metabolism, basically putting them in a temporary hibernation.
  • When they first arrive, we measure each one for certain parameters, including mass, wingspan, body length, and body width.
  • We take a photograph of each one with their wings outstretched, so that a computer program called Matlab can calculate more complex parameters such as surface area.
  • We place small pieces of reflective tape on several areas on the butterfly. These are strategic places in order to measure wing pitch, wing movement, and body movement during flight. This reflective tape is what the motion tracking cameras sense-they do not see the butterfly as a whole but rather as small dots moving together.
  • The butterflies are flown in a netted area of the lab. The cameras send their information to the computers, and we are able to track the butterflies' flight.

Activities
  • 6/14/2016:   Presentation to local second grade teachers about our Monarch butterfly research, hosted at the Huntsville Botanical Garden
  • 4/27/2016:   Our Monarch butterfly outreach poster displayed at the Huntsville Botanical Garden!
  • 2/4/2016:     Presentation to the UAH AIAA Student Chapter about our Monarch butterfly and artificial butterfly research efforts
  • 10/26/2015: Presentation to a 5th grade class at the Guntersville Cherokee Elementary School about our research efforts and on Monarch butterfly flight.
  • 9/29/2015:   Presentation during the Tennesee Valley Environmental Educators meeting, held at the Huntsville Botanical Garden about our research efforts. The main topic of the meeting was the migration of Monarch butterflies and how to set up a Monarch Waystation.