Monday, November 5, 2012

Andrew's African Barn Owl School Project

At Andrew's school, the second graders are each asked to choose an African animal to research.  They are to create a 3D model of the animal and place it in a replica of its natural environment.  In addition, they are asked to write a short paper and prepare a presentation for their class.  They had a month to work on it at home.



Anyone that knows Andrew, knows that he is in love with birds.  He especially loves owls.  He reads anything fiction and nonfiction he can get his hands on about owls.   When the teacher told them they could choose any African animal they wished, he  knew that there were African Barn Owls in Africa, so he chose that as his animal.  He was the first second grader at the school to ever choose a bird.  Well, as it turns out, there aren't really a lot of published English resources specifically about the African Barn Owl.  Especially those written for a non-graduate student level.  Luckily, we found a wonderful organization in South Africa who rehabilitates injured African Barn Owls, and they were a good source of information.  We also found brief paragraphs in several different books we were able to get for really cheap on amazon, and a few online resources.  We read A LOT about the African Barn Owl.



After reading everything we could find, Andrew decided his 3D model needed to be actual size.  Great, except for the fact he needed it shown in its habitat.  So while the other students mostly brought in shoebox sized dioramas, Andrew designed an abandoned building out of the box from our new bathroom sink.  He did all of the work all by himself on the owl.  On the building, Chad assisted him with cutting the Styrofoam and window with a box cutter.  Chad also taught him how to use a ruler to make the windows and how to use tape to make windows. Andrew did all of it himself, but his Daddy showed him how. 



The requirement for the paper was at least 8-10 sentences long.  Andrew had read too much to condense into 10 sentences.  His paper ended up being 3 pages long.  He typed up notes as we read owl books and then learned how to copy and paste them to help format his paper. I even taught him how to make a cover in Picasa.



The day he finished the research paper and made the owl, Andrew proclaimed that it was the best day ever!  He said he loved working on school stuff and that he was grateful for knowledge!  Although he never really complains about school work, he does love learning, it is amazing how focused and engaged a child can be when reading, writing, and creating about a topic they are passionate about!





 Some pics of Andrew working on the project. 






For his presentation, Andrew got permission from his teacher to wear his owl Halloween costume.




Here is a copy of his paper, in case you want to read it.

The African Barn Owl
by Andrew Scribner

    The African Barn Owl lives all over the continent of Africa.  It lives mostly in cities like Nairobi.  The African Barn Owl usually makes its home in man made places like old factories, barns, and other buildings .  They like wide opened spaces best.  The African Barn Owl makes nests high in the air in a building. The African barn owl lives up to 1 or 2 years in the wild .  Barn Owls do not hoot like other owls do. They screech instead. Kareeeeeeeaaaaak!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     The African Barn Owl is a large bird with a heart shaped face. Its outer covering is brown and white feathers. It has 4 brownish talons on each foot and  it has black eyes.  The African Barn Owl is sixteen inches tall.  It has a three feet wing span.  The African Barn Owl’s weight is only about a pound.  The African Barn Owl’s head can turn 180 degrees around.
    The African Barn Owl is a bird of prey.  That means it eats meat.  It eats small rodents, bugs and small birds.  It also eat lizards, insects, bats and frogs.  A barn owl can eat 1,000 mice in one year! It swallows the mice whole and even eats the whiskers.  We know what it eats because of its owl pellets.  An owl pellet is something that owls yarp out of their gizzards.  Yarp means to spit out.  It is made of the stuff owls can’t settle in their stomachs.  They yarp pellets of fur and bones out in a big pile out of their nests. The African Barn Owl hunts dusk for breakfast, midnight for lunch, and dawn for dinner.  
    The African Barn Owls have many special features.  They fly silently.  Their eyesight is 2 or 3 times better than a human’s eyesight and they can see at night much better than we can.  African Barn Owls use their hearing to help them catch rodents.   They can hear from 75 feet away!  Some scientists think that African Barn Owls can tell what kind of mouse it is and what size it is by the noise it makes.
    The African Barn Owl is also called Tyto Alba.  In Swahili it is called “Bundi.”  In Afrikaans the African Barn Owl is called iNonnetjies-uil.   That means "little nun owl.”  
The African Barn Owl’s predators are eagles, crows, and other large birds.  The African Barn Owl is also harmed by humans.  In South Africa, some people think owls are bad luck, and they try to kill them.  Other people think they will help them get better when they are sick.  People sell owls they catch for $1,000 so that medicine men can make special medicines out of owls.  I learned that from an Owl Rescue Centre in South Africa.   They take care of owls that have been rescued. I think that when I grow up I will try and free owls.  


Where I Found My Information

Birds of Africa: From Seabirds to Seed-Eaters by Chris and Tilde Stuart
Snowy the Barn Owl by Jane Burton
Owls by Kevin J. Holmes
Owls and Other Birds of Prey by Mary Reid
Birds of Prey: Owls by Wayne Lynch










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