University of Minnesota

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Humboldt Jr. High School
St. Paul, MN


In this lab we were investigating to see if the noise level in a classroom affected the movement of the monarch butterfly. We were trying to determine if the butterflies would move more in louder surroundings than in quieter surroundings. We found that as the noise level increased, so did the monarchs' activity. The average number of butterfly flaps in the quiet classroom was about 36 flaps per 5 minutes, while the average number of flaps in the noise classroom was about 63 flaps per 5 minutes.

There are some uncertainties in this experiment. First, students were not all counting flaps the same way and secondly, as the noise level increased so did the activity of the students. This may have caused the butterflies to move. This experiment taught me that if you want calm butterflies in the classroom, you need to have calm students around them.


In Ms. Aughenbaugh's science class we are doing an experiment on monarch butterflies. We are trying to see if the noise level affects how many wing flaps a monarch butterfly makes. I thought that the butterflies would make more wing flaps when the noise level was louder because they could get scared or excited.


  • two little cages
  • one big cage
  • 19 butterflies
  • time


All the students had a number from 1-19 that we had to remember. We made a data table numbered 1-19. We used three cages and about 5-6 butterflies in each cage. We had to watch the same butterfly each time we tested them. Ms. Aughenbaugh timed us for about 5 minutes. When she said start we had to be silent and then we counted how many flaps the butterflies made for 5 minutes. Then we went to our seats and collected data from that. Then we went back and changed the noise level to low and counted the flaps for another 5 minutes. We took a 10 minute break to collect that data. Next, we went back to our spots and changed the noise level to a medium whisper and counted how many flaps the butterflies made and took another 10 minute break to collect that data. Finally, we changed the noise level to a high whisper and counted those flaps and added the data to our data table. After collecting all of the data, we added it up depending on the noise level and divided by 19 to get the average. Then we added the average to our data table.


We found that as the noise level increased, the monarchs had more activity. Our conclusion may have some errors because the students didn't count the exact number of flaps, they just estimated. The average flaps of the monarchs with no noise level was 53.9, with low, 36.7, with medium, 43.1, and with high noise level was 63.4. Two things I learned from this experiment were that monarchs have more activity when the noise level is higher and that noise level can affect the activity of a monarch.

(Photo: Humboldt Jr. High School)
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