Exploring the Web of Life and Decomposers in Science
In their Web of Life Unit, 4th Grade students have been busy investigating the three types of decomposers: bacteria, fungi, and insects.
In one experiment, the students watched yeast, a type of fungi, feed off the sugar in a banana, causing it to decompose. When studying bacteria, students used an unwashed finger to put on a petri dish labeled "un-sanitized." After thoroughly washing their hands, students were asked to place the same finger on a different petri dish labeled "sanitized." In 48 hours, they saw first-hand how their thoroughly clean hands still had traces of microscopic bacteria. These memorable moments certainly made a lasting impression on the students!
After studying food webs and food chains, the students culminated their Web of Life study by dissecting owl pellets. Since owls do not have teeth, they swallow their prey whole. They cannot digest the bones, fur, and feathers, so this is regurgitated back up as a pellet. After separating the fur or feathers from the bones, the students worked together to identify the animal by the type of bones they found. Finally, the students sorted and recreated the skeleton of their rodents and affixed them to a poster they proudly displayed in their classrooms.
Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.