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Thursday January 26, 2017 at 3:35pm Age: 2 yrs
Category: Minisink Elementary


You never saw a more focused group of second graders. The secret? Bones! And they went digging for them too--inside owl pellets--in Mrs. O'Connor's class.


“The best part about this activity is that I get to see bones!” Julia said, cheerfully. “It’s the coolest thing ever!” Ava agreed. Sawyer was inspired to go even further: “This is a lifetime experience because you don’t get to do this every day.”   


After an owl eats its prey, it forms a pellet with the bones and fur it can’t digest and regurgitates it. Since the owl swallows its prey whole, many of the bones remain intact. By looking at the shape of the bones in the pellet, it’s possible to determine what the owl ate for dinner.


With the help of class parents, and equipped with tweezers and magnifying glasses, the students recovered whole skulls, ribs, leg bones, vertebra, and other bones from the prey—usually rodents.


Using a scientific bone-sorting chart on the classroom wall, students looked to match their findings to the animal they came from.


“We have a vole head!” Sean proclaimed. “Owls don’t eat them very often, so it’s special,” he added knowingly.


The owl pellet dissection activity was the culmination of a unit about animal life and types of habitat. Students learned what it takes for some animals to survive, and how they depend on their habitats to succeed.