GT Times

June, 2022

Special Edition

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Vocabulary is for the Birds!

Our final learning unit of the year for the 4th grade GT students was all about birds! You might think that everyone knows everything about birds because we see them everywhere every day. However, they are complex fascinating creatures that hold many surprises!

To begin the unit, our students learned "bird words"! These included:

  • Asymmetrical
  • Brooding (see the photos above taken by Miss Hunt for examples)
  • Cache
  • Crepuscular
  • Metabolism
  • Nictating Membrane (see the photo below taken by Miss Hunt to see it in action!)
  • Torpor
  • Zygodactyl

If some of these words are unfamiliar to you, just ask one of the 4th grade GT students! They will be happy to explain them to you!

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Students also learned about the many adaptations birds have to help them survive. These include having specialized beaks, feet and feathers. For example, raptors, or birds of prey, have curved beaks and long sharp talons for tearing as they are omnivores and prey on other birds and animals. A hummingbird, on the other hand, has a long slender beak because it drinks nectar from flowers. Other adaptations, called behavioral adaptations, include specific migration routes and stop-overs that certain species follow year after year.

After learning all about birds in general, our budding ornithologists narrowed their focus to birds of prey!

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🦅Miller Zoo BoP Informational Poster🦉

For this part of the learning unit, the students were presented with the following scenario:

"You are an employee of the Miller Zoological Park. The latest exhibits installed at the Zoo are about birds of prey. Your job is to create informational signage for one of these exhibits. You must include photos and specific information about your BOP so the Board of Directors can decide which signs they will authorize the Directors of Marketing to purchase and display. Choose one bird of prey from our video, discussions, or from the wall photos, and create an informational poster about it. You will be using Canva for this!"

Included in their posters was the following information:

  • Name of BOP

  • Description

    • size

    • wing span

    • color

    • weight

  • Range - where is it found in the world?

  • Habitat - the type of place where it lives (swamp, forest, water, etc.)

  • Prey - what does it eat?

  • Predators - what hunts it?

  • Is it:

    • Diurnal

    • Nocturnal

    • Crepuscular

  • Three (3) ADDITIONAL facts

  • Three (3) pictures of your bird - MINIMUM

  • You MUST also use the Miller Zoo logo (provided) somewhere on your poster.

Check out some of their awesome posters above and below by clicking on them!

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Virtual Owl Pellet Dissection

From their studies on birds of prey in general, students now focused on one species of raptor: owls and their pellets! Though many birds make pellets, owl pellets tend to be larger because owls usually swallow prey whole as opposed to tearing it. In order to better understand pellets, the students visited Kidwings, an online site that explains everything having to do with owls and their pellets.

The first misconception that was cleared up was just what is an owl pellet. According to their research, students found that pellets are formed from the indigestible parts of an owl's meal including bones, feathers, and fur. Because their digestive acids are not as strong as other birds, the pellet contains more complete bones, and these materials could damage the owl's digestive tract. Once or twice a day, owls need to get rid of the pellet so they can eat again. To do this they regurgitate it!

Using Kidwings, the students were able to virtually dissect a pellet and see just what can be found in them. As they were dissecting, it turned into a bit of a competition, with students trying to get the best time for completing it. Though there were some incredible times, no one was able to top Miss Hunt's time of 5:57!

Check out the video below to see what we are talking about!

What Are Owl Pellets? - #sciencegoals
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Owl Pellet Dissection

Unbeknownst to the students, the virtual dissection was just an introduction. After that, they were going to be dissecting an actual pellet! To do this, they learned about the tools they would use and prepared by viewing at a video of an actual dissection. When the day came, many were nervous, as few said they were "grossed out", but they were ready to go!

Check out the photos of our scientists at work!

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Owl Pellet Dissection Lab Video

After completing their dissection lab and corresponding paperwork, students were asked to create a video talking about it. Their specifications were as follows:

Create a 30 to 60 second video. 📱🤳🏻

Include the following:
▶Introduce yourself - First and Last name
▶Show and talk about three things you found (This is why I told you to save your bones from your pellet!).
▶Be sure to properly identify them (names of the bones) (Charts are on our website and in Google Classroom.).
▶Tell us one thing that surprised you about or during the dissection.
▶Tell your favorite part of the dissection.

Check out some examples of their videos below!

1 M Carter BOP #7 Owl Pellet Dissection Lab Video
7 N Pluchino BOP #7
5 I Madan BOP #7 Owl Pellet Dissection Lab Video
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Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge

As a culminating activity for our Birds of Prey learning unit, the 4th graders had the pleasure of a "private" meeting with three live birds of prey! These guests are residents at the Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford, NJ. Refuge naturalist and Director of Education Erin Rounds spoke to the students about how they help injured wildlife and why some become permanent residents there. She then introduced them to the stars of the show: Apollo the Turkey Vulture, Aldora the Red-tailed Hawk and Nazar an Eastern Screech Owl!

Throughout the presentation, students had the opportunity to share their knowledge and also ask questions. Needless to say, Erin was very impressed with them! She also had a few hands on portions, with one showing silhouettes of different birds of prey to demonstrate their wing span. Students were also reminded about the size of an owl's eyes, and Owen M. demonstrated that by putting on "glasses" to show how large our eyes would be if they were the same proportionally to a bird of prey! Other artifacts the students saw included the foot and talons of an Osprey, Great Horned Owl and a Red-tailed Hawk which the students got to see and touch, as well as a wing of a Red-tailed Hawk and a Barred Owl. They know that an owl's flight is basically silent, but they were able to actually hear if for themselves!

All in all, the students LOVED this and all of the activities in our Birds of Prey learning unit!

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Joke Time!

Check out some "owl" jokes that will make you "hoot" with laughter! 🦉

  1. What do you call an owl that boxes?
  2. What do you call a magical owl?
  3. What is a owl’s favorite subject at school?
  4. What type of books do owls like to read?

(Answers below)

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GT Students Represent for Flag Day!

As you know, Flag Day is June 14th. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, "Flag Day, also called National Flag Day in the United States, a day honoring the national flag, is observed on June 14th. The holiday commemorates the date in 1777 when the United States approved the design for its first national flag. This year, Flag Day is celebrated on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in the United States."

In honor of Flag Day, students were challenged to: "wear your red, white, and blue or something flag-inspired to show your love or Old Glory...our American flag! Be sure to stop by Miss Hunt's room and show her!" Check out our patriotic kids!

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This year has been so much fun! With Mrs. Pettit joining us this year, it got even better! We hope that you enjoyed your GT experience in 4th grade and are looking forward to bigger and better things for the next school year! Have a great summer, and we'll see you in September!

💗Miss Hunt and Mrs. Pettit

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  1. Muhammad OWLEE!
  2. HOOOO-Dini!
  3. Owlgebra!
  4. Hooo-dunnits!