Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Chipmunk Experiment, part deux

Back in September we found a dead chipmunk, courtesy of our cats, in our yard.  It was unmarred.  You can read more about it here

I started leading a nature class for our friends and fellow homeschoolers.  Yesterday was "Unearth the Chipmunk" day. 

A quick overview...we buried the chipmunk hoping it would decompose and we'd only find the skeletal remains.

I talked about chipmunks with the kids, introducing them to the Eastern Chipmunk.  I forwarded some curriculum links to the mamas.  I bought a box of latex-free gloves for all who were participating.
We turned over the pot I buried the 'munk in.  I gritted my teeth and we set to work with little shovels, carefully wiping the dirt away.  The kids were really gentle.  I was still gritting my teeth...expecting to find a half-rotted carcass and getting ready to be grossed out. 

We got through the entire pile of dirt.  No chipmunk remains.  WHAT?  The kids were mildly disappointed and some made a few..."are you sure there was a chipmunk in here?" comments.  Others thought the worms at the whole thing. 

Then someone found a teeny tiny bone fragment.  We all started searching and sifting.  We found more bones.  The kids got bored and another mommy and me were still plugging away. 

We put all the bones in a jar of white vinegar.  This will eat away all the yuckies and clean the bones. 

side view of the skull

Tiny bones
The kids were pretty excited about it.  I was glad we were able to find some...nothing worse than an experiment gone wrong! 

We talked about what archaeologists do while unearthing dinosaur bones.  One kids asked if we were like scientists... you bet, buddy.  

Next week we'll look at the bones and figure out what is what...once they're clean and bacteria-free.  No weird chipmunk bone bacteria for these kids. 

No comments: