Like Finding a Needle in a Haystack?
Comparing the Mexican Sanctuary Region
to the Expanse of the Monarchs' Eastern Range

The area in red measures over 9 million square kilometers.

Stop and think for a minute. The monarchs that are now funneling through Texas and into Mexico have come from points across eastern North America. At the latitude of the southern tip of Texas, the monarchs' flight path is only about 8% as wide as it was when they started from their breeding grounds in the North.

This map shows the HUGE area in North America across which monarchs move on their way to the sanctuaries in Mexico. The area in red measures over 9 million square kilometers!

In contrast, the sanctuaries are a tiny speck on the planet. They are clustered into a tiny region that measures only 800 square kilometers. This means the Monarchs find an area that is 11,000 times smaller than the area the migration crosses. Finding a needle in a haystack almost sounds easy in comparison! The monarchs certainly seem to know where they're going, don't they?

Try This: Journaling Question
Calculate the area of a standard football field, then answer this question:

"Finding the Mexican sanctuaries in the North American continent is like finding a _____ on a football field. (Fill in the blank with something to scale. That is, name an object that's 11,000 times smaller than a football field.)"

Here are the dimensions of a football field:
  • Length of field: 120 yards (including 10 yards of end zone at each end).
  • Width of field: 53 1/3 yards (160 feet).

Good Luck!

Link to Answer (But don't peek until you've done your own math!)

National Geography Standards

The World in Spatial Terms
How to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information.

How to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments.

National Math Standards

Numbers and Operations
Understand meanings of operations and how they relate to one another

Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement
Apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements.