Butterflies in Space

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The Butterflies in Space Teacher's Guide uses "life in space" to encourage learners to conduct their own open-ended scientific investigations. The guide provides information about the Butterflies in Space experiment conducted aboard the International Space Station and instructions on how to build a habitat and conduct open-ended experiments. The experiment instructions begin on page 11 of the PDF. Learners can build a "Clamshell Habitat" or a "Box Habitat" to raise Painted Lady butterflies.

Quick Guide

Learning Time:
1 to 4 weeks

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Painted Lady butterfly eggs and/or larvae
  • Butterfly food
  • Adult Butterfly Nectar (1 ounce sugar, 4 ounces water, and 2 pinches of salt)
  • Cotton balls
  • Pot and stove or hot pot for boiling nectar
  • Small paintbrush
  • Standard fluorescent bulb in a
  • Clear plastic box (item number 079-C)
  • Clear or white 7-day medicine organizer, 6 in. x 1.25 in. (available at most pharmacies)
  • Drill (or nail and pair of pliers)
  • Red permanent marker
  • Clear, hinged
  • 4 clean individual portion cups and 2 lids
  • Distilled water
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Pair of scissors
  • Plastic report cover
  • Sheet of cardboard
  • Student sheets (pp. 20-24)
  • Measuring tools
  • Camera (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • Mathematics
    • Data Analysis and Probability
      • Data Analysis
      • Data Collection
      • Data Representation
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
    • The Scientific Process
      • The Scientific Worldview
      • About Inquiry
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Vogt, Gregory L. ; Moreno, Nancy P. ; Countryman, Stefanie


  • All rights reserved, Baylor College of Medicine, 2009

Funding Sources:

  • NASA, NCC 9-58
  • Houston Endowment Inc.
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute