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Yesterday was the last day of summer school for the wee ones. While I am happy to not be waking up quite so early in the morning to get them out the door to the 8am classes, I know they enjoyed them and are looking forward to what they’ll take next year.
Little Miss’s kindergarten prep class is complete (although I had a horrible time this morning convincing her she wasn’t on her way to kindergarten today), and Mister Man has no more cooking class (I may yet have to post on that one) or science class. Prior to the end of the science class, however, there was a science fair.
Mister Man was excited to have me come to visit his classroom and see the science fair and only told me that it started at 11am three to four times each day the week leading up to it.
When I asked for more information about it, he explained that he’d chosen the owl pellet project. He was to open the owl pellets and build a vole skeleton.
I’ll admit right now that I did not have the greatest science education growing up. When I got to college and had my first chemistry class, I had no idea what a pipette was. I only passed that class thanks to a very bright friend of mine who graciously agreed to my lab partner.
Needless to say, I chalked up his explanation to being six and not really getting things and just smiled and nodding. I was thinking – don’t ask me why – that his chosen project was to open up some plastic owl-shaped container with a plastic skeleton puzzle in maybe twenty pieces. And note the word chosen – yes, he chose this project.
Ohhhh how my eyes were opened. Allow Mister Man to explain his science project.
You see, owls eat their prey – voles, mice, etc. They digest everything they can, which leaves fur and skeletons. These are compacted together in the owl’s stomach in to – wait for it – pellets, which they then vomit up.
Uhhhh. Yep. My son’s science fair project is owl vomit.
So apparently these little gems are all over forest floors, if you know where to look. Oddly, I’ve never seen them before. The science supply stores, however, sell them – lucky us.
You open up a pellet, which is fortunately wrapped in lovely tin foil, whether to protect the owl pellet or people, I’m not actually sure. You then start digging through the compacted fur – which is rather dust-like – to find the bones encased within.
There’s also a nifty little digging stick tool to help you get the pellet started and ensure you aren’t missing any pieces of the skeleton.
Once you have the bones removed from the bits of fur, you simply arrange them on the handily provided piece of paper that shows where the bones are in the various animals and “build” your skeleton from there.
Interestingly, the skull and jawbones appear to have been the easiest to find, and they were also Mister Man’s favorite. When he asked to bring these home, I unfortunately had to decline.
No, my child couldn’t have the project on planets and space. He wasn’t interested in the density of various liquids. He didn’t want to build circuits or create pressure with Alka-Seltzer to pop open small containers. No, he chose to build skeletons from owl vomit.
Call me a wimp, but there are some things about science I was just fine not knowing. And yes, he has announced that he wants to take this class again next year.