RESET Volunteer Ed Rock at Greenbrier Learning Center:
The ‘Ewwww’ Factor Gets Kids Involved
No, they’re not doing the fox trot! ReSET volunteer Ed Rock demonstrates the size of a whale vertebra.
ReSET volunteer Ed Rock will tell you that owl pellets can be a bit off-putting to your average 10-year-old. But once they get past the general “ickiness,” they are rapt with attention. Rock, who works full-time at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), has been volunteering with the Virginia Gardens and Greenbrier after school programs. Last spring, Rock did an experiment at Greenbrier where the class examined a number of variables involved in seed (radish) germination and plant growth (light, water, and nutrients). “The students came up with ideas for some of the things they wanted to look at,” says Rock. “And I helped them to see it in the context of an experiment with control groups. The owl pellet activity was done because some of the students had expressed an interest in animals and anatomy. We used the owl pellets to discuss food webs, digestive processes, skeletons, and scale and size (for example, we looked at the size of vertebra in whales through voles—the typical skeletal remains you see in owl pellets).”
Rock reflects the impressive commitment and creativity of ReSET volunteers. He typically takes a half day off to do his volunteer work, and he is always looking for new ideas to try out with the children.
Rock says his students quickly get over their initial squeamishness. “We did a similar exercise in Virginia Gardens using fish (fish printing and dissection). A few students were standoffish at first, but as the activity wore on they moved in closer, and by the end of the session they were diving in and actively participating. Natural student curiosity and the wonders of the natural world can overcome so much inhibition in a group of students.”