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Field Biology Kit Review by Lisa McKinney

Pellets Inc.
PO Box 5484
Bellingham WA 98227

The Owl Pellet Field Biology Kit from Pellets Inc. is a great add-on activity for any science-loving household, whether homeschooling or not. The Field Biology Kit contains everything you need to dissect real owl pellets to find actual skeletons. The kit includes everything you need, including three pellets, magnifying lens, plastic forceps, and a twelve-page illustrated study guide. The study guide provides an introduction about what owl pellets are, a brief explanation about owl digestion, as well as illustrations of the food web of an owl. The study guide walks you through how to begin the dissection, but the bulk of the guide is devoted to helping the dissector identify the various bones they will discover. There are several pages of bones and identification information and the Latin and common names of the animal species that owl eats. The kit retails for $19.95 and is noted for ages eight and up.

Because this product was designed to be open and go, I was able to work it in on a Friday when we had a lighter day. I simply opened the box, grabbed a piece of blank paper (the only thing NOT included that is needed), and we got started. My younger son is ten, and while he was initially stuck on the idea we would be looking at “owl poop,” he quickly dove right in. The forceps are a perfect size for smaller hands, and he could use them to grab the smaller bones. I also grabbed an old safety pin to clean out the smaller bits of fur wrapped around some bones. This is a kit for just about anyone who enjoys digging for hidden treasures. Because there are drawings of the bones that are expected to be found, it was easy to hold the ones we did find to compare. The study guide also has a page with a ruler on it to note size comparisons. The study guide included discussion questions that could be asked of the students as they completed the project. We dissected one of the three pellets, and it took us about half an hour once we got started to pull out all the largest pieces. This would be an excellent kit for a shorter hands-on science lesson to go with a food web, a bird, or a mammal study; however, it really can stand on its own without any additional lessons.

I am a huge fan of dissection, and this was a project that I had wanted to do for a while. It was the ideal kit to quickly grab and throw into a Friday where I had a light day scheduled. It was also perfect since we had recently studied a food web and were in the middle of learning about mammals. We worked on grouping the different bones we found and used the study guide for making our best guesses as to what small mammals they belonged to. The study guide is something that can be saved for use even after the dissection is complete for any future studies on owls, food webs, or small rodents with all the illustrated detail and descriptions.

I was surprised how eager my son was once we got started, after his initial hesitation. He loved comparing the bones we found with the pictures in the guide. We ran out of time long before he ran out of interest, so we will be saving the other two pellets for further study. We found the parts of four skeletons just in one of the pellets, which was extremely exciting for him. I think the thing I appreciated the most was that other than a bit of a musty smell, the pellets were pretty much scent-free. I do not have any cons to the kit. It was all-inclusive and was easy enough for my son to do on his own if he desired.

Whether you want to expand on science lessons you are already using, or simply want to stash a fun open-and-go science kit for a rainy day, I highly recommend the Owl Pellet Field Biology Kit from Pellets Inc.

-Product review by Lisa McKinney, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2021