Students create butterfly art to raise climate change awareness

Photo by __ drz __ on Unsplash

Schoolchildren in the east of the county have helped to create hundreds of paper butterflies to display around a museum to spark conversations about the climate crisis.

Students from Parkside Community College in Cambridge decided to craft the art installation, called The Butterfly Effect, after learning that butterflies act as an early warning sign of environmental changes.

The paper butterflies, on show at Cambridge University’s Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, are displayed alongside cardboard protest banners.

Dr Richard Fox, head of science at Butterfly Conservation, said it was ‘important to understand how insects responded to a changing climate and take action to protect them.’

Students attended a series of after-school workshops in their free time as part of the project, which began last November.

Nicola Skipper, Sedgwick Museum’s education coordinator, said it had been a joy to work with students: “The Sedgwick Museum has rocks and fossils that show over 1,700 million years of global climate change and it’s vital young people engage with the climate crisis,” Ms Skipper said.

“This programme was created to connect the upcoming generation with our world-leading climate scientists and to give the students a space and voice within the museum.

“It’s been wonderful to see them respond to it so enthusiastically and creatively.”

Dr Fox has also urged people to take part in the annual citizen science project, the Big Butterfly Count, from 12 July to 4 August. The Big Butterfly Count is a UK-wide survey aimed at helping to assess the health of our environment simply by counting the amount and type of butterflies and day-flying moths seen.

“Butterflies are indicators of a healthy natural environment and can indeed flag early warning signs of environmental issues,” he said.

“With half of Britain’s butterfly species already threatened or near threatened with extinction, it’s never been more important to understand how our insects are responding to the changing climate and take action to protect them so that they can keep informing us of the wider health of the environment.

“With climate change here to stay, we need people to take part more than ever this year.”

Sign up online for the Big Butterfly Count 2024.