This week was a big one for Mrs. O’s science classes. We had experiments and tons of science-y stuff going on in every corner. This made for many happy students and one tired teacher, but an overall productive and successful week.
Every year, my 6th grade class dissects owl pellets. This activity occurs after several lessons on adaptations, ecosystems and food chains. We talk specifically about owls and their adaptations and then I introduce the owl pellet. I always have to clear up some misconceptions: owl pellets are not poop! This great video shows that first hand. What a cute baby owl… until… the pellet is released! It gets them every time!
The students spend time separating the fur from the bones, then sorting the bones that they find, and finally placing them and gluing
them on black paper. At first, students are completely grossed out by the pellet and are mortified that I won’t let them use gloves. After a few minutes of seeing what cool bones are inside though, most students are totally into the activity! They can’t wait to see if they have a mouse, a shrew or even a bird skeleton within their pellets.
In addition to teeny bones sitting all over my counters, this week was frog dissection week. This is one of the highlights of the year for my 7th grade students. We spend months studying cells and the human body, and our frog dissection is the grand finale to the unit!
We spend a few classes preparing by briefly learning about frogs and their adaptations and reviewing some of the body systems. I have a coloring diagram of the frogs that students use to help them identify the parts of the frog ahead of time. We discuss the process and the tools, and then the frog day arrives!
It takes two class periods to do justice to the frog. I have the students look at the outside parts including the legs, toes, and special eyelids. Students check out the muscle layer, then open up the abdominal cavity to see the organs inside. It is so fun to see how excited they get when they are able to identify some of the organs. I see dots connecting when they observe the different system present in the frog and how similar they are to the human body!
To be honest, these activities take a lot of prep work and several classes. It isn’t easy. But these are the kinds of activities that students will remember for years to come. These are the lessons that bring science to life and teach more than I could in two weeks of taking notes. The students will discover first hand how the world works and will be inspired by God’s awesome creation. The looks of excitement (and horror) on their faces when they start opening up their pellet or cutting through the frog’s skin make those preps worth it.
You can order both the owl pellets and the frogs online. I order mine through Carolina Biological and always seem to get quality products for a decent price. And no, they did not pay me to say that, although that would be nice!
It was a busy week, but it was one full of learning and excitement for science.