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How to make a Bio-Diorama
The term "Bio Diorama" is something I think is new. I never heard of it before and if it doesn't exist as a term it does now! It refers to a diorama that has some kind of a biological component to it.
What this means is that living things like butterflies are an integral and important part of the diorama.They are kind of built right in.
I may do several of these but for now this tutorial is about one particular bio diorama; one with butterflies.
Some Resources: At the bottom of this page is my youtube video on this project and I have a link where you can order this butterfly kit from amazon.com.
The story of the diorama
I really like to make a diorama that tells some kind of a story and this diorama tells a bit of a story too. We see an adventurer lost deep in some caves. He carries a lantern and he discovers a group of enourmous pods hanging from the ceiling. These pods are the "bio" part of the diorama.
I ordered a group of five caterpillars from a company called InsectLore.com . They have a variety of kits that will get you going with growing or raising different kinds of insects. This particular kit is a netted treehouse. And it also comes with a fun and informational dvd. Well, what you do is send in your order and a couple of weeks later you get a container of five caterpillars in the mail. - Yup, in the mail.
All of my caterpillars arrived in good shape and after a few hours they were all moving around and doing their thing. Eventually they climb to the top of the container and create their chrysalids so they can transform into butterflies. It's a really neat little project.
Back to the Bio Diorama Idea
Anyhoo, I built the little diorama so I could have a nice scene for the caterpillars.
Here is the secret to the diorama. I made it out of a foam core that I carved into a cave shape. There is a circular hole at the top. When the caterpillars are transformed into cocoons this hole is where I can suspend them right into the scene. Pretty much as simple as that!
Here is a look at the completed diorama with the butterfly cocoons installed.
Kind of creepy huh? Which is exactly what we were trying to do!
One other unique thing that I did was add a light to the outstretched hand of our adventurer. This was done with a simple LED. The picture below shows the LED lit up. Just seemed like a nice touch. No adventurer worth his salt would stumble through caves without some kind of light source.
As far as how to make this diorama goes it is pretty easy and you can make it out of almost anything including cereal boxes. I used foam. I simply cut a block then carved out the cave. For the stalagmites I just sanded pieces of foam into cone shapes.
This diorama was made in a unique little box. If you are wondering about that box it is called a tatebanko box (the japanese art of paper dioramas) And I have a complete tutorial showing you how to make one. And I have a download so you can print it up and put it together : Tatebanko tutorial
So, I will keep you updated on this project and hopefully we will see the cocoons in here and then the butterflies emerge.
I also have a youtube video showing this part of the project:
Here is the second video. It shows that the caterpillars have transformed into Chrysalids. Pretty cool how they go into a wiggling dance to spin silk around themselves.
A caterpillar comes to school in a jar. The class watches the caterpillar each day as it grows and changes. Soon, it disappears into a hard shell called a chrysalis. Then the chrysalis breaks, and a beautiful butterfly flies out of the jar! This is a perfect beginner's guide to the mystery of metamorphosis.
Peterson First Guides are the first books the beginning naturalist needs. Condensed versions of the famous Peterson Field Guides, the First Guides focus on the animals, plants, and other natural things you are most likely to see. They make it fun to get into the field and easy to progress to the full-fledged Peterson Guides.
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