Today was a day of dissection for those of us at coop. No, you do not need to conjure up the smell of formaldehyde from your 10th grade biology class. This was odor-free. A new class began that will focus on All Things Spring, and today's class was about how plants grow. Here is Eliza's dissection of a lily, which I just find so appealing:
Today was also the continuation of the Poop class, with a slight twist. We talked about how some birds rid their bodies of undigestible material by forming a pellet of fur, bones, feathers, teeth, and insect bits in their gizzards. These are then hocked out, to land at the base of a tree, and be collected by strange biology nerds for dissection. (We actually found one of these pellets in our front yard in Richmond, VA, under a huge oak tree.) For this class I ordered the "elementary" pack, which included 15 pellets, wooden probes, study guides and a free bone identification chart. It was awesome! Most of the kids were really into prying apart the furry pellet and teasing out the bones within. Most of the pellets contained the remains of more than one animal, as most contained 2 or 3 skulls. Using the probes (and for some, latex gloves), they separated bone from fur and tried to match them up with a drawing of a vole skeleton. Ours was the last class of our coop day, so I was happy to leave it open-ended, so that kids who had really had enough focused learning time could keep it short-and-sweet, but aside from one boy who was really squeamish (politely so) about the whole thing, and insisted on washing his hands three times in 10 minutes (after which I offered to perform the dissection while he identified bones - this worked pretty well!), they kept at it for 40 minutes or so. Hurrah!!
Eliza hard at work
Student gluing matching bones onto his diagram of a vole skeleton