Agriculture requires huge volumes of water for crop irrigation, animal hydration and processing of food products. Unfortunately, agricultural impacts on ecosystems threaten pollinating insects like Monarch butterflies that are essential to growing the grains, fruits and vegetables we need. As one of the activities from the “Teaching Tools about Monarchs” series, this lesson introduces students to the connections between food production, water consumption and habitat impacts. As they examine the amounts of water needed to make popular lunch items students will:

Represent their data using a pictograph.

Describe how water is used to produce their lunch through each supply chain stage.

Analyze how agricultural water use impacts habitats.

Develop personal strategies to reduce their own ecological footprint.
Recommendation of how and where to use it
This resource can be used to support Grade 36 mathematics learning related to analyzing statistics, graphing and working with whole numbers. Students use multiplication and division to calculate water totals of food items and construct charts. The lesson also supports science concepts related to the environmental impacts of natural resource use. Partnering this activity with the “Eating Our Planet” lesson would provide a comprehensive unit on the topic of food waste and the role of personal stewardship in conservation.
Monarch butterflies depend on Milkweed for reproduction. A class could research and grow Milkweed plants that are best suited to their region and plant them in areas like municipal flower beds and community gardens. Monitoring butterfly use of the flowers could be used to raise awareness of the value of providing pollinator habitat in gardens. If students are fortunate enough to find a “tagged” Monarch they can report their finding through the Monarch Watch website to learn about the route the individual has travelled.
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