Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mickey Novak's visit!

Our endangered species books are on display in the school library and as part of our wrap-up of this unit we invited Mickey Novak from US Fish and Wildlife to share his expertise.  He brought with him some extremely valuable and deeply tragic items to share with us. With the help of the fifth graders he carted in two bags and one box containing over a quarter of a million dollars worth of confiscated items made from rare and endangered animals that people had attempted to smuggle into the  United States.  Although the items were worth about as much as a house, they would have been worth much more if they had stayed attached to or covering the animal from which they were taken.  Here are some photos of our visit:

A Question for Mickey about Endangered Species

 White Cobra Skin Boots

 Reticulated Python Skin... 5.3m, or 18 feet long!

 Hawksbill Tortoise, Stuffed

 Ocelot Pelt

 African Dwarf Crocodile Handbag

Zach About to Choose an Item from the Bag


Hawksbill Tortoise

 Bear Gall Bladder Medicine(?)

 Hartmann's Mountain Zebra Pelt

 Carved Tusk, Valued at $100,000... but what price for the life of an elephant?

 Close up of White Cobra Boot

 Walrus Tusk and Crocodile Handbag

Medicine Made of Ground Tiger Bone

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Who knows...?

Dissecting Owl Pellets
As part of our unit on endangered species, we are dissecting owl pellets to get a sense of what sorts of animals live in the owls' ecosystem. By examining the teeth of the animals, we are able to make inferences about what the owls' prey ate too.
Monday, January 27 from 2-3:00 we will be displaying our books on endangered species and giving oral presentations inspired by TED Talks. The format will be somewhat of an Open House, with visitors able to view the books and listen to the talks.  Join us if you can!
Tuesday, January 28 from 1-2:00 we will have a guest speaker from US Fish and Wildlife, Mickey Novak, who will be bringing samples of confiscated items made from endangered species.  Buyer Beware!

Owl pellets dissection:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Endangered Species and Mad Science

We are deep in our research for our endangered species reports and presentations. We will be publishing books with photographs of the species we studied plus giving TED-style talks on the species. We will film the talks and publish them on-line, with a link to the reports. Look for a celebration and TED-talk invitation next week.
If you would like to check out a sample TED Talk, follow the link to TED Under 20. We watched and were inspired by #5, by Richard Turere: My invention that made peace with lions

And for some Mad Science pix....

We were investigating the insulating properties of blubber by plunging our hands into a very frigid mix of water, ice and snow. Mother Nature obliged by making the outside temperatures in the single digits and providing lots of fresh snow.  One hand got a layer of vegetable fat to insulate it and the other was uninsulated. We recorded the difference in the way the hands felt after thirty seconds and one minute.  Some lasted a minute and a half, and in the interest of frostbite prevention, we stopped there!