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National Science Foundation
Now Showing: Film, TV, Museums & More
Promoting Public Understanding of Science & Engineering
NSF supports a wide variety of educational and informational projects for the general public
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Overview of NSF's Informal Science Education program

Flight of the Butterflies

image of Monarchs in the sky

The monarch butterfly makes one of the longest migrations on Earth, crossing an entire continent to reach a location in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. The NSF-funded IMAX film, "Flight of the Butterflies," follows the monarch's perilous, year-long, 3,000-mile journey with stunning cinematography from an award-winning team. The film also tells the story of Canadian zoologist Fred Urquhart's 40-year search for the secret hideaway of millions of these colorful butterflies, discovered on a remote mountain peak 10,000 feet above sea level. In 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the monarch butterfly sanctuary a World Heritage Site.

In addition to raising awareness of the butterfly and the importance of protecting its habitat, the movie aims to increase understanding of the scientific process and the role of citizen scientists in that process. Thousands of volunteers across North America helped tag and track the insects during Urquhart's quest, and continue to do so through Monarch Watch. In fact it was a pair of citizen scientists working with Urquhart that first discovered the monarch's haven.

The film and accompanying educational activities were produced by the Maryland Science Center, in collaboration with SK Films and other partners. One of the partners, NSF-supported conservation biologist Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota, was recently honored by the White House as a Citizen Scientist Champion of Change.

The film is enjoying four-star reviews and has been seen by approximately 2 million people on 125 screens in the United States and 11 other countries.

For more information, go to http://www.flightofthebutterflies.com.



Credit: © Copyright 2012 SK Films. All Rights Reserved.