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Exploring Structures: Butterfly

Source Institutions

    NISE Network

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Exploring Structures: Butterfly

In this activity, learners investigate how some butterfly wings get their color. Learners compare Buttercup and Blue Morpho butterflies and discover what happens when they shine light at each of them. Learners discover that some wings get their color from the nanoscale structures on the wings instead of pigments.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Type:

English, Spanish


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
      • Biodiversity
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Electromagnetic Spectrum
      • Sunlight and Color
      • Vibration and Waves

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


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