4th GRADE SCIENCE DISCOVERY
Dissecting barn owl pellets is an action packed way to see a real life food chain revealed right before your eyes. 4th graders are slightly apprehensive at first, but once they realize it is the coolest thing to find skulls, ribs, hips, and everything in between they love this lab.
Students first carefully pull apart the pellet to separate the fur from the bones. Students begin realizing that some of the pellets have many skulls of different sizes in them. Did the owl eat a nest of baby mice or caught a bird nesting in the barn? Some pellets have just one big skeleton or a bird skeleton. Excitement builds as students go up to the microscope to identify their rodents by their teeth. Is it a mouse, a shrew, a rat, a mole? What color fur does it have? This is such a great lab for the children to naturally discover what their owl ate in that one day. It is also a great way to introduce the role of the biologist. Students love the microscopes and use the same method as biologists to learn about the eating habits of owls.
Some students say the owl pellet lab is the best thing ever. Some had to power though getting used to the idea they were picking through dead animals. Over all, 4th graders enjoyed coming up with their own hypothesis of what their owl ate. No two pellets are alike so it is really interesting to see all of the reconstructed skeletons on the final day. The lab is a great experience in real life science!