Ecology Education Consulting, Inc.

This Barn Owl pellet investigation addresses this problem. It is designed to help give elementary school students (grades 3 - 5) the competence and confidence to conduct an observational research study. Students are challenged to help solve a real-world conservation problem. In order to do this successfully, they utilize all of the components of a GOOD scientific inquiry study – address a specific research question, conduct background informational research in order to formulate their hypothesis, participate in the design of the investigation, collect data and then draw appropriate conclusions, as well as communicate their findings.

An overarching goal of this study is to minimize the teacher directing the investigation while maximizing student involvement by having them act and think like scientists. However, this can only occur if the teacher does not relegate this study into a ‘cookbook’ science investigation, whereby the students are merely slavishly obeying step-by-step instructions that are given to them.

In addition to the Student Research Booklet, I have included additional resource material to assist in delivering this lesson plan.

Barn owl pellet investigations in K - 8 classrooms are fairly common. Unfortunately, such studies often simply consist of pulling pellets apart and examining the contents. If this is the case, then students will have missed an excellent opportunity to learn how to conduct a hands-on science inquiry study using an ecological context.

Barn Owl Pellet Research Study for Elementary School Students

Barn Owl
Science Inquiry Flow Chart

Science Inquiry Study Components

Credits: Barn Owl (Tom Theodore|Dreamstime)