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Morphing Butterfly

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    NISE Network

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Morphing Butterfly

In this activity, learners explore how nanosized structures can create brilliant color. Learners examine Blue Morpho butterflies in the light and discover what happens when they put a drop of alcohol on a butterfly's wing. 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 6 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
      • Biodiversity
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Size and Scale
  • Physical Sciences
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
      • Vibration and Waves
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

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


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All Rights Reserved, Sciencenter, ©2012

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0532536
  • National Science Foundation, 0940143


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