A popular 4th grade science unit is on The Human Body: Bones and Joints. Students learn about bones by analyzing diagrams and a life-sized human model using a collection of X-rays. The types of joints in the body are categorized by comparing the movements of mechanical devices to human joints. Students immobilize their own joints and then attempt to perform everyday tasks. After gaining a good understanding of human bones, joints, and scientific vocabulary, the focus shifts to the similarities and differences between human skeletons and those of other members of the animal kingdom. The culminating lesson is the unit, Dissection of Owl Pellets. Owl pellets are the regurgitated the contents of their prey (ours were voles) that is indigestible. After carefully breaking apart the pellet, the search is on for tiny bones and animal fur among the dirt and bark. Bones are gathered and glued onto a diagram. The purpose was to find enough bones to complete a skeleton. One student group found two skulls, but was lacking scapulas (shoulder blades) and thigh bones (femurs). It is not an exact science, but that is all part of the fun!

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