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Exploring biodiversity with École en réseau

Students from nine Québec school service centres took part in a biodiversity and sports event, organized by École en réseau, Ultra-Trail Monarch and Esri Canada.

In summer 2023, Marie-Claude Nicole, director of École en réseau (in French), contacted Esri Canada's Education and Research team, with a proposal to collaborate on a project with Anthony Battah of Ultra-Trail Monarch. The idea was for schools to follow Anthony's progress on his race to Mexico by participating in races and conducting activities on a variety of themes, such as biodiversity, endangered species, human impact on species and the monarch butterfly. Our team was delighted to be involved in this exciting project!

Our GIS Ambassador Program provided Anthony's team with the tools they needed to collect and share data about the progress of his adventure with students. Working with a volunteer from Ultra-Trail Monarch, we assisted in creating an ArcGIS Survey123 form that recorded Anthony's daily mileage, photos and news of the highlights and challenges he faced along the way. Overall, Anthony ran and walked 4,537 kms! This covered the distance from Montréal to the Mexican border and included over 600 kms in Mexico City. Anthony's results were made available to schools through an app (in French) created by our team using ArcGIS Experience Builder.

The image is a partial map of North America: from Nicaragua in the south, to half of James Bay in Canada in the north, from San Francisco in the west to New Brunswick in the east. The top of the image is a title bar. Against a yellow background, a vector drawing of a monarch butterfly is shown on the left, next to which it is written in French: "The results of the sports challenge". The land territories on the map are white, and the water is blue. The following labels appear from left to right and top to bottom: Vancouver, Calgary, Ontario, Seattle, Lake Superior, Ottawa, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, New York, Denver, USA, St. Louis, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Monterrey, Gulf of Mexico, Miami, Mexico, Havana, Guadalajara, Cuba, Mexico, Port-au-Prince, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea. Near Lake Superior, the title "Approximate autumn migration of the monarch butterfly to Mexico" is written in orange letters in French. Diffused shapes in various shades of orange, yellow and red represent the migration zone, which extends from the northeastern United States between Denver and Atlanta to just north of Mexico City. From slightly east of Ottawa to the Mexican border north of Monterrey, a line is formed by a large quantity of the monarch butterfly design. Occasionally, there are also red dots on this line. Such is the case east of Ottawa, near Toronto, near Detroit, and east and south of Saint-Louis. Between eastern Ottawa and Detroit, a green line is wider than the line formed by the butterflies. One of the butterflies in the line is illuminated in light blue at the Dallas level. There's a red arrow with a black outline at the end of the line of butterflies, pointing towards Mexico City. Beneath Mexico City and Guadalajara, there's an image against a green background depicting two monarch butterflies larger than the butterflies forming the line. In the top-left quadrant of the image, there is a box with a white background that reads: on the 1st line, "1 of 3", on the 2nd line, "Day 56 - Monarch Ultra-Trail", on the 3rd line, "Zoom on", on the 4th line, "'September 22, 2023, Anthony [drawing of a Monarch butterfly] ran:", on the 5th line, ": ", on the 6th line, "54.4 km", on the 7th line, "As of April 30, 2024, Anthony has covered:", on the 8th line, "A total of 4,537 km", on the 9th line, "An average of 48.8 km / race day", on the 10th line, "Last updated by UltraTrail Monarch on 09/25/2023 09:58. ". At the very bottom of the image, there's a line on a pale blue background that reads: left-aligned "Esri, TomTom, Garmin, FAO, NOAA, USGS, EPA, USFWS" and right-aligned "Powered by Esri".

Results of the sports challenge (in French)

Meanwhile, the students participated in 38 running events from September to November 2023. Their data was recorded in a second Survey123 form and was also displayed on the Results of the sports challenge app (in French). The 11 classes that participated hailed from nine different school service centres and included students from preschool to grade 6. These students cumulatively ran 1,154 kms. That's the equivalent of the distance between Montréal and Detroit in the United States!

The image is a partial map of northeastern North America: from Boston in the south, to James Bay in the north, from the U.S. border at Lake Huron in the west to Channel-Port-aux-Basques in Newfoundland in the east. The top of the image is a title bar. Against a light grey background, it says in French, aligned to the left: "Results of the sports challenge - School participation". The land areas on the map are pale green, and the water is light blue. Blue lines criss-cross the territory, outlining the main waterways. The following labels can be read from left to right and top to bottom: Moosonee, Chibougamau, Sept-Îles, Timmins, Val-d'Or, Saguenay, Rimouski, Monts Notre-Dame, Gaspé, Bathurst, Sudbury, Québec, New Brunswick / Nouveau-Brunswick, Prince Edward Island / Île-du-Prince-Édouard, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ottawa, Montréal, Drummondville, Fredericton, Moncton, Georgian Bay / Baie Georgienne, Maine, Saint John, Huron / Huron, Brockville, Nova Scotia / Nouvelle-Écosse, Kingston, Montpellier, Augusta, Toronto, Adirondack Mountains, Yarmouth, London, Hamilton, Buffalo, Rochester, New York, Appalachian Albany, Connecticut, Concord, Boston. On the top right of the map, there's a search bar that reads "Find an address..." in French. At the same height, completely on the left, there is a house icon and a button with a + and a -. Scattered across Québec are a green dot north of Ottawa (almost level with Québec City), a purple dot and a blue-green dot near Montréal, an orange dot north of Montréal, a pink dot at Drummondville, a blue dot north of Drummondville at the same level as Québec City, a yellow dot near Québec City, three red dots near Saguenay and a brown dot near Percé. At the bottom of the map, on the left, there's a scale bar reading 200 km. Below this bar is a line against a light grey background reading "Esri, USGS | Esri, TomTom, Garmin, FAO, NOAA, USGS, EPA, USFWS, NRCan, Parks Canada | Sources: NRCan, Esri Canada, and Canadian Community Maps contributors. | Esri C... Powered by Esri". To the left of the map, there is a sign where, against a pale grey background, it says: on the 1st line, "Les évènements de course des élèves", on the 2nd line, "[red circle icon] CSS des Rives-du-Saguenay", on the 3rd line, "[blue circle icon] CSS de l'Énergie", on the 4th line, "[green circle icon] CSS Pierre-Neveu", on the 5th line, "[purple circle icon] CSS de Montréal", on the 6th line "[orange circle icon] CSS des Samares", on the 7th line, "[yellow circle icon] CSS de la Capitale", on the 8th line, "[pink circle icon] CSS des Chênes", on the 9th line, "[brown circle icon] CSS René-Lévesque", on the 10th line, "[blue-green circle icon] CSS des Grandes-Seigneuries", on the 11th line, "[purple circle icon] CSS Harricana" and on the 12th line, "[gray circle icon] Other".

Participating schools from the Laurentians to Gaspésie

The progress of the project

Organized and launched by École en réseau, the Education and Research team’s role in this exciting project was primarily focused on guidance, technical support and presentation of the data collected. We organized the data collection by creating two forms and assisting the Ultra-Trail Monarch team in the creation of a third. We then collected and displayed the results, making them accessible to classes via interactive maps and apps. Lastly, in January 2024, I led a FormaPROFS workshop where I provided feedback on the project and explored the various tools that had been used to enable teachers to replicate or take inspiration from the project. Watch the workshop video here.

FormaPROFS: the Ultra-Trail Monarch and GIS project (in French)

Our engagements with schools and educational partners are varied throughout the year, but it's always exciting to work with educators and students on new projects. The versatility of the ArcGIS Online tools makes them ideal for supporting innovative educational initiatives.

What are you planning for the end of the present school year or for the 2024 return to school?

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We are always available to answer your questions, to guide and support you in your projects. Write to us at

If you want to begin your adventure with GIS, navigate to our website to request a free account for yourself and your students at

For other activity ideas and to find many resources, visit K-12 Education Resources.

This post was written in French by Arabelle Sauvé and it can be viewed here.