ALEX Lesson Plan

     

The Barn Owl Pellet Lab

You may save this lesson plan to your hard drive as an html file by selecting "File", then "Save As" from your browser's pull down menu. The file name extension must be .html.

  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Shirley Scarbrough
Organization:Alabama State University Math-science Pa
And
Author:Ruth Liddell
System: Informal Education Partner
School: Informal Education Partner
And
Author:Debbie Payne
Organization:ResultSearch Consulting
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 33346

Title:

The Barn Owl Pellet Lab

Overview/Annotation:

The Barn Owl Pellet Lab includes hands-on, inquiry-based activities. During this lab activity, students will dissect two Barn Owl pellets. The dissection allows students to compare the data collected from the two pellets. The student worksheets that accompany this lesson require students to: make predictions, perform mathematical calculations, construct a graph, classify bones into types, separate bones by prey type, and draw conclusions about the owl’s environment based on the dissection findings.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 7
Life Science
5 ) Examine the cycling of matter between abiotic and biotic parts of ecosystems to explain the flow of energy and the conservation of matter.

a. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about how food is broken down through chemical reactions to create new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as it moves through an organism.

b. Generate a scientific explanation based on evidence for the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions; Asking Questions and Defining Problems; Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Crosscutting Concepts: Energy and Matter
Disciplinary Core Idea: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Explain that matter is cycled and conserved within an ecosystem's abiotic factors and biotic organisms.
  • Gather and synthesize information with attention given to accuracy, credibility, and bias.
  • Explain that food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down or rearranged to support growth, or release energy, using collected evidence.
  • Articulate the idea that photosynthesis and cellular respiration result in the cycling of matter and energy into and out of organisms using collected evidence from a variety of sources.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Abiotic
  • Organisms as producers, consumers, and/or decomposers
  • Biotic
  • Evaluate
  • Ecosystem
  • Communicate
  • Chemical reaction
  • Molecules
  • Photosynthesis
  • Food web
  • Cellular respiration
  • Energy
  • Matter
  • Energy transfer
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Organisms can be classified as producers, consumers, and/or decomposers.
  • Abiotic parts of an ecosystem provide matter to biotic organisms.
  • Biotic organisms of an ecosystem provide matter to abiotic parts.
  • Energy flow within an ecosystem.
  • The number of each type of atom is the same before and after chemical reactions, indicating that the matter ingested as food is conserved as it moves through an organism to support growth.
  • During cellular respiration, molecules of food undergo chemical reactions with oxygen to release stored energy.
  • The atoms in food are rearranged through chemical reactions to form new molecules.
  • All matter (atoms) used by the organism for growth comes from the products of the chemical reactions involving the matter taken in by the organism.
  • Food molecules taken in by the organism are broken down and can then be rearranged to become the molecules that comprise the organism (e.g., the proteins and other macromolecules in a hamburger can be broken down and used to make a variety of tissues in humans).
  • As food molecules are rearranged, energy is released and can be used to support other processes within the organisms.
  • Plants, algae, and photosynthetic microorganisms require energy and must take in carbon dioxide and water to survive.
  • Energy from the sun is used to combine molecules (e.g., carbon dioxide and water) into food molecules (e.g., sugar) and oxygen.
  • Animals take in food and oxygen to provide energy and materials for growth and survival.
  • Some animals eat plants algae and photosynthetic microorganisms, and some animals eat other animals, which have themselves eaten photosynthetic organisms.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including the cycling of matter and flow of energy among biotic and abiotic parts of ecosystems.
  • Identify and use multiple valid and reliable sources of evidence to construct an explanation.
  • Use reasoning to connect the evidence and support an explanation.
  • Obtain information about how food is broken down through chemical reactions to create new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as it moves through an organism from published, grade-level appropriate material from multiple sources.
  • Determine and describe whether the gathered information is relevant.
  • Use information to communicate how food is broken down through chemical reactions to create new molecules that support growth and/or release energy as it moves through an organism.
  • Articulate a statement that relates a given phenomenon to a scientific idea, including the idea that photosynthesis and cellular respiration cycle matter and energy.
  • Identify and use multiple valid and reliable sources of evidence to explain the roles of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in cycling matter and energy.
  • Use reasoning to connect the evidence and support an explanation of the roles of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of matter and flow of energy into and out of organisms.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • There is a transfer of energy and a cycling of atoms that were originally captured from the nonliving parts of the ecosystem by the producers.
  • The transfer of matter (atoms) and energy between living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem at every level within the system, which allows matter to cycle and energy to flow within and outside of the system.
  • The atoms that make up the organisms in an ecosystem are cycled repeatedly between the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem.
  • Matter and energy are conserved through transfers within and outside of the ecosystem.
  • Relationship among producers, consumers, and decomposers (e.g., decomposers break down consumers and producers via chemical reactions and use the energy released from rearranging those molecules for growth and development.
  • Within individual organisms, food moves through a series of chemical reactions in which it is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules, to support growth, or to release energy.
  • Plants, algae, and photosynthetic microorganisms take in matter and use energy from the sun to produce organic molecules that they can use or store, and release oxygen into the environment through photosynthesis.
  • Plants use the food they have made for energy, growth, etc.
  • Animals depend on matter from plants for growth and survival, including the following:
    • Eating photosynthetic organisms, thus acquiring the matter they contain, that they gained through photosynthesis.
    • Breathing in oxygen, which was released when plants completed photosynthesis.
  • Animals acquire their food from photosynthetic organisms (or organisms that have eaten those organisms) and their oxygen from the products of photosynthesis, all food and most of the oxygen animals use from life processes are the results of energy from the sun driving matter flows through the process of photosynthesis.
  • Photosynthesis has an important role in energy and matter cycling within plants as well as from plants and other organisms.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Investigating Biodiversity and Interdependence

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
L8.3c: Food is used to provide energy for the work that cells do and is a source of the molecular building blocks from which needed materials are assembled.

NAEP Statement::
L8.4a: Plants are producers; that is, they use the energy from light to make sugar molecules from the atoms of carbon dioxide and water.

NAEP Statement::
L8.5a: All animals, including humans, are consumers that meet their energy needs by eating other organisms or their products.

NAEP Statement::
L8.5b: Consumers break down the structures of the organisms they eat to make the materials they need to grow and function.

NAEP Statement::
L8.5c: Decomposers, including bacteria and fungi, use dead organisms or their products to meet their energy needs.

NAEP Statement::
P8.13a: Nuclear reactions take place in the Sun.

NAEP Statement::
P8.13b: In plants, light from the Sun is transferred to oxygen and carbon compounds, which, in combination, have chemical potential energy (photosynthesis).



Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.7.5- Distinguish between abiotic and biotic parts of an ecosystem.
SCI.AAS.7.5a- Recognize that food is broken down through chemical reactions to provide energy needed for the growth of organisms.
SCI.AAS.7.5b- Recognize that plants and animals depend on one another for the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen; identify photosynthesis as the process by which plants transfer energy from the sun into materials needed for growth.


Local/National Standards:

 

Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will dissect an owl pellet.

Students will identify the animal skulls and other bones found in the pellet.

Students will collaborate with group members to gather evidence about the owl’s diet based on data gathered from the dissection.

Students will use the data collected to create a frequency distribution graph.

Students will create an accurate food chain based on evidence gathered during the inquiry.

 

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 
 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Student Materials (per student)

Pencil or pen

Pre-/Post-Test (see attached document)

Owl Pellet Introduction and Instructions (see attached document)

Owl Pellet Handout 1 (see attached document)

Owl Pellet Handout 2 (see attached document)

Owl Pellet Handout 3 (see attached spreadsheet)

Owl Pellet Handout 4 (see attached document)

Owl Pellet Handout 5 (see attached document)

Student Materials (per group)

2 wooden probes

4 laminated bone charts showing types of bones commonly found in owl pellets (found on page 4 of the Teacher Lab Package-see attached PDF file)

1 hand lens

1 pair of forceps

2 small Ziploc bags, labeled Pellet 1 and Pellet 2

1 metric ruler

1 scale

Paper plates

Glue stick

2 owl pellets (per group)

8 Bone Group Cards (found on pages 6-13 of the Teacher Lab Package-see attached PDF file)

Rat Skeleton Chart (found on page 14 of the Teacher Lab Package-see attached PDF file)

 

For Acceleration Activity: “Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection” from Kid Wings.

For Intervention Activity: “What is a Barn Owl Pellet?” video clip from YouTube.com-3:55 minutes

Teacher Materials

Owl Pellet Presentation (see attached PDF file)

Pre-/Post-Test with Answers (see attached document)

Technology Resources Needed:

Teacher Technology Resources

Teacher computer

Projector or interactive whiteboard

Student Technolgy Resources

For Acceleration Activity: Internet-capable device

Background/Preparation:

Student Background: As this lesson will serve as an introduction to barn owls and their interactions with the biotic and abiotic factors of their environment, students do not need to possess background knowledge about these concepts prior to participating in the lesson’s activities. This lesson will require students to participate in hands-on, inquiry-based lab activities. The students will need to be able to follow multi-step procedural instructions in order to complete the activities. Students will be participating in lab activities in which owl pellets and dissection equipment will be handled. Students should follow all appropriate safety precautions including wearing safety goggles.

Teacher Background: The teacher should preview the lab procedures and materials prior to teaching the lesson to ensure that the student lab activities are prepared for students before beginning the lesson’s activities. As written, the activities included in this lesson will require at least five class days to complete. The teacher can view the Owl Pellet Presentation for additional background information about the concepts taught in this lesson. The teacher should review lab safety precautions with students and ensure students follow these procedures for the duration of the lesson.

  Procedures/Activities: 

Before Strategy/Engage: 100 minutes (Days 1 and 2)

Day 1

1. The teacher should give each student a copy of the Pre-/Post-Test. The teacher should give students approximately twenty minutes to complete the pre-test. The teacher should stress to students that the purpose of the pre-test is to demonstrate the student’s background knowledge about barn owls and their habitat.

2. After students complete the pretest, the teacher should check students’ answers to determine their current knowledge base of the concepts using the Pre-/Post-Test with Answers (see attached document). Alternatively, the teacher could allow students to check their own paper or check a partner’s paper.

3. Next, the teacher should divide students into groups of approximately four students each. Each student in the group will need a copy of Owl Pellet Introduction and Instructions (see attached document).

4. After the teacher discusses the lab activity procedures with students, the teacher should give each student a copy of Owl Pellet Handout 1 and allow students to make predictions with their group members.

5. Next, the teacher should give each group the required materials for the “Owl Pellet Study Kit”. Each student will also need a copy of Owl Pellet Handout 2 (see attached document).

6. Students should weigh and measure the owl pellets and record the data on Owl Pellet Handout 2. Students should work with their group members to answer questions #1 and #2 on this handout.

Day 2

7. Students should record the predicted number of skulls for each pellet they weighed and measured on Day 1 on Owl Pellet Handout 2. Students will work with their group members to answer question #3 on this handout.

8. Students will begin to dissect the owl pellets and record the observed number of skulls on Owl Pellet Handout 2 for each individual pellet. Detailed dissection instructions are found in the Owl Pellet Introduction and Instructions handout (see attached documents).

Note: Students should save and store bones in Ziploc bags for the next day’s activity.

During Strategy/Explore & Explain: 50 minutes (Day 3)

1. Each student will need a copy of Owl Pellet Handout 3 (see attached spreadsheet).

2. Each group of students will need to exchange their data with the other groups and record the data on Owl Pellet Handout 3.

3. Students should work with their group members to answer questions 1-3 on this handout.

4. Each student will need a copy of Owl Pellet Handout 4. Students will use their combined class data from Handout 3 to answer the questions on Handout 4.

5. Each student will need a copy of Owl Pellet Handout 5. Students will use the data from Handout 4 to create a graph showing the frequency distribution of animal skulls in the pellets.

Note: Students should save and store bones in Ziploc bags for the next day’s activity.

After Strategy/Explain & Elaborate: 100 minutes (Days 4 and 5)

Day 4

1. Each group will need 4 laminated bone charts showing types of bones commonly found in owl pellets (found on page 4 of the Teacher Lab Package-see attached PDF file), a set of the eight Bone Group Cards (found on pages 6-13 of the Teacher Lab Package-see attached PDF file), and a copy of Rat Skeleton Chart (found on page 14 of the Teacher Lab Package-see attached PDF file).

2. Using the bone charts, students should begin sorting the bones by type on the eight Bone Group Cards. After students have sorted all bones, they should arrange the bones in the shape of the Rat Skeleton Chart.

Note: Not every group will be able to construct a complete rat skeleton.

Day 5

3. The teacher should allow students to view the Owl Pellet Presentation (see attached PDF file).

4. After students view the presentation, they should work with their group members to construct a food chain with one producer and at least four consumers, using evidence from their dissection to construct an accurate food chain. Students may use the back of Handout 5 to sketch their food chain.

5. The teacher should give the students the Pre-/Post-Test, that students completed as a pre-test at the beginning of the lesson. The teacher should explain to students that this post-test will allow students to demonstrate the knowledge they acquired during the lab activities.



Attachments:
**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.
  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment: The teacher will informally assess student’s background knowledge by administering the Pre-/Post-Test prior to teaching the lesson. The teacher should carefully monitor students as they complete the lab activities with their groups to certify that students are correctly following the lab procedures. The teacher should review each student’s answers on the lab handouts to ensure that students are collecting accurate data during the lab investigations.

Summative Assessment: The teacher should review the food chain created by each student at the conclusion of the lesson to assess student’s understanding of the interaction between organisms in an ecosystem. The teacher will administer the Pre-/Post-Test as a summative assessment at the end of the lesson. 

Acceleration:

Students can further explore the concepts taught in this lesson by completing a virtual owl pellet dissection on “Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection” from Kid Wings. After performing the virtual dissection, students can challenge their classmates to assemble the virtual rat skeleton the quickest.

Intervention:

Students who require additional preparation prior to the lesson or review after the lesson can view “What is a Barn Owl Pellet?” video clip. This will provide more information about how barn owl pellets are formed and tips for pellet dissection.


View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.