Owl Pellet dissections can be a fun science activity for people of many ages. We provide these generalizations as guidelines about what children at different ages might do while exploring Owl Pellet at the Discovery Center’s Experiment Station, in the kitchen at home, or at school. Listed below are science and technology process skills that children may be practicing during their explorations. Please remember: each child develops at a different rate, so some children in each age group may be able to do some of the things described in the age group before or after their own.
Early Elementary-schoolers can compare the bones they find in an owl pellet to each other, to those in another skeleton, or to bones in their own bodies.
Early Elementary-schoolers can match the bones they find in a pellet to an bone identification chart (see example at right) more easily than younger children can.
Children at this age can put a number of different bones in a graded sequence, based on their length or width. They can also use a ruler or measuring tape to classify the bones, based on their size.
Early Elementary Schoolers may be able to figure out what type of prey animal (e.g. mouse, shrew, small bird, etc.) that an owl ate, by matching multiple bones found in the same pellet to one of the columns of an owl pellet identification chart.
Early Elementary-aged children can use a ruler or measuring tape to measure the bones they find. Younger elementary students will benefit from the help of a grownup, who can show them how to correctly use a ruler (lining up one end of a bone at "zero") to measure their bones.
Early Elementary-schoolers can use a magnifying lens with relative ease, and can manipulate the knobs on a child-safe microscope (e.g. to focus) if shown how to do so by a grown-up.
Early Elementary-schoolers can be more precise in their dissections, carefully picking the pellet apart and gently removing bones without breakage, if encouraged to do so by a grown-up.