Data Collection (Owl Pellets Day 1)

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SWBAT use various tools to collect scientific data.

Big Idea

This culminating project allows students to dissect owl pellets, collect data about the owl pellets and the bones inside, then graph this data.

Background Information About Owl Pellets

20 minutes

This culminating project ties together content from both math and science.  To introduce the project, students are provided with background information about owl pellets. Together, we went through each of the pages of this website: pellet information, pellet directions, virtual pellet. This website is informative and kid friendly.  Students enjoy sharing the virtual pellet with their families at home.

Next, I show a short video of a baby owl regurgitating an owl pellet. I show this clip with the volume off, because the photographers are talking in the background and it can be distracting. This film helps students make connections between the project and the real world.

I also share a fun song that accurately describes the dissection process and entertains the students.  

After students have been provided with the scientific background necessary, I allow time for students to ask questions.  This concept peeks their curiosity and I like to provide time for open ended discussions and questioning before moving on.

Owl Pellets can be purchased through many companies, we purchase ours through Pellets, Inc. 

Math Assignment Overview

5 minutes

While dissecting owl pellets, students will use a Owl Pellet Lab to record important information about their owl pellets.  

They measure the weight of the owl pellet using a balance scale, measure the length and width of the owl pellet, and record the number of each type of bone found.  

Precision and organization are encouraged, however, I intentionally choose not to provide students with strategies for completing this data collection (outside of tips for pulling the pellet apart) because students learn from their own experience and many different approaches are acceptable. 

Owl Pellet Dissection & Data Collection

40 minutes

Students work on dissecting their owl pellets.  Some students record the data throughout the process, others wait until they have collected all of the bones, then record.

After the data is collected, students use resources to determine the type of prey the owl ate and reassemble the skeleton.