Outreach activities in White Carpathians

As our project continues, so does our centre (Education and information centre Bílé Karpaty) continue to create educational and teaching aids. But how to test if these tools work as we imagined? The best way, of course, is to try them out directly while working with the children for whom they are primarily intended. The best time for such a trial is when setting up the Apollo Gardens, which have been introduced on this website before (for example, in the article Two Apollo Gardens built).

We have managed to build four such gardens in the past year, each in partnership with a school. All four gardens are raised beds that we have constructed in a pre-selected location. The rest was up to the children. With undisguised joy and enthusiasm, the children became gardeners and filled the bed with soil and levelled its surface. They then placed larger and smaller stones, which they had brought themselves, on a part of the bed to create a small rock garden. They poured silica sand into the slits between the stones.

Then came the main thing. Since the Apollo Gardens are meant to be an environment for both adult butterflies and their caterpillars, the prepared bed needed to be enlivened with nectarous plants for the adult butterflies and host plants for the caterpillars. The children planted white stonecrop plants in the sand of the rock garden and randomly planted small common houseleek among them. Although it is not an important food plant for caterpillars, caterpillars can occasionally use it and it is a nice diversion to the rock garden. Next to the rock garden, the children planted great stonecrop – another important food plant for caterpillars.

What about the rest of the bed area? The children had already guessed that the flowering plants that the adult butterflies need to live would come here. We provided meadow plant mix seeds for this purpose. A significant part of this mixture consisted of seeds of the Apollo´s favourite plants (various pink and purple flowering plants) and the rest of the seeds were other meadow plants to make the bed more varied, attractive to other pollinators and to keep it flowering for as long as possible.

An indispensable part of creating each bed was the time we spent with the children talking about the life cycle of butterflies, their importance in nature and other things. Of course, we also introduced in detail our main hero, the Apollo butterfly, the reasons why it has disappeared from our nature and how we can help it. At this point it was also our turn to try out some of the tools we had already created. A great success was always achieved by the Apollo pupa, several meters long, which the children climbed through, and on the other side, an adult Apollo emerged from them. Equally enthusiastic was the preparation of a sweet drink (represented nectar in flowers for the adult butterflies) and tattoos with all the developmental stages of the Apollo.

We have not only used the tools and materials to build Apollo Gardens, but also at several other events for the public. The children enjoyed the activities and we believe they will not forget Apollo right away. Among other things, it was confirmed to us that even ordinary coloring according to a template still has its charm and can entertain children.

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