Laurie Garippa's fifth-grade science class at LaRue Elementary School performed dissections on owl pellets during class last week. The purpose of the dissections was to determine the eating habits of owls. Garippa said she and her students have been studying the different food chains in the ecosystem, and wanted to close out the lesson by dissecting owls.

She said this was the first time they were able to afford to perform the dissection, thanks to community partner Paul Wilson. He works for Cenergistic, an energy conservation company. However, Wilson made the donation on his own, not on behalf of the company.

“I've wanted to do this for a while,” Garippa said. “It's a very expensive experiment. I appreciate our donor so much for making it possible for the students to be able to experience something like this.”

Students were provided a bone chart before class began. They were supposed to see if they could find the remains of rodents, shrews, moles and birds. Once they found a particular bone, they were to place that bone on the designated area of the chart.

Many of the students were excited when they discovered a bone that matched the chart.

Christian L. said his main objective was to see if his owl had digested a mole.

“I haven't found a skull yet,” he said. “I'm pretty sure I'll find one before I'm done.”

Bella F. said she had fun performing the experiment because it was interesting and different.

“I think it's interesting to find bones,” she said. “I found a body of shrew, and it's really cool.”

Although Jonathan H. had fun, he said he couldn't believe he was digging through owl throw up to see what it had eaten.

“It's honestly just owl throw up,” Jonathan said. “I'm grossed out by it all, but I'm enjoying it at the same time.”

Noelle S. was thrilled when she discovered a bird skull and a mole jaw in her owl's vomit.

“I'm excited because I love discovering new things,” she said. “I'm one of those kids that loves to explore, so this is a lot of fun.”

Unfortunately, Victoria P. did not share Noelle's enthusiasm for the project.

“I hate this,” she said. “I just hate how gross it is.”

She said when she learned they were going to dissecting owl throw up, she was shocked.

Ryan W. said he loved the experiment because it's gross and boys like gross things.

Brayden L. didn't share Ryan's enthusiasm for the experiment. As he tried to remove the hair from the pellet, his fellow classmate Kate K. noticed a foul look on his face. She then said to Brayden, “You can't just poke at it with your tweezers. You need to pick it up and tear it apart.”

He said there was no way that he was going to do that, because it was just “too gross.”

“I thought boys liked gross things,” Kate said. “I'm really surprised that you don't like this.”

Brayden responded by telling Kate that he is “a different kind of boy.”

“She's tearing it up and I'm picking through it,” he said. “At least I've found four legs.”

Mallory B. said doing things like this is why she enjoys going to school at LaRue.

“Our school does a lot of fun stuff,” she said. “I do think this is cool. I was grossed out at first, because hair was going everywhere, but then I really started getting into it.”

She added that having a teacher like Garippa makes disgusting projects like this one worth it.