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Pam Gatts, a third grade teacher at Hilltop Elementary School, was recently awarded a West Lake/Blue Racer/Covestro Grant to buy supplies for a science lesson.

Owl pellets were purchased so the third grade students could examine the eating habits of the birds. Many owl species are carnivores, eating mice, frogs, snakes, rabbits, squirrels or other birds. Owls, however, can only digest the edible parts of their food. The remains are discharged as a small pellet. Each pellet is the regurgitated remains of what an owl has eaten, including any bones of the animal it swallowed.

During the lab, students dissected the pellets and then pieced together the bones of animals the owls had eaten. The young “scientists” compared the different kinds of animal remains found in each pellet. This hands-on experience brought to life scientific questions and exploration of real world animals. 

The grant included enough money to acquire owl pellets for every Hilltop Elementary School third grader to participate in the dissection lesson.