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TTE third-graders beat the winter blahs

The third-graders and their kindergarten buddies enjoyed “free-range” chick time.

Article submitted by Kimberly Jester, third grade teacher, TTE; photos courtesy of Anna Mallinson

On Valentine’s day, I surprised my third-graders with the ultimate Valentine and “winter-blahs” beater. We were chosen to be part of the Douglas County 4­H/CSU extension chicken embryology project, and Mary Baldwin with 4­H brought us 18 fertilized chicken eggs from a local chicken breeder and an incubator. She explained the exciting things to come and the process of potentially taking our eggs to chicks.

The amazing thing about chicken embryology is that the entire process takes 21 days. From day one, the kids monitored the temperature and humidity in the incubator. They researched the variety of breeds we were provided. About 10 days into the project, Mary returned to help “candle” the eggs to see which eggs were viable to continue to hatch. After cycling all 80 third-graders through a viewing process, we determined we had 15 of 18 eggs that were viable. We continued to cross days off the calendar to day 21, hatch day.
The newly-hatched chicks huddled together for comfort in the “brooder,” a safe, warm place where they were cared for until they were ready to go out into the bigger world.

Like a miracle, the eggs started to jiggle, and the chicks started to pip their shells right on time. The kids and I did not want to leave at the end of the school day; we were mesmerized and so invested. I even went back after dinner and played cards by the incubator, so I wouldn’t miss anything. Sadly, nothing happened that night. But slowly they started to hatch, one by one.

We fell in love with each new hatch. We named the chicks… “George Washington” was first to hatch…first hatched/named after our first president. The chicks slowly moved from the incubator to the “brooder” and eventually into the loving hands of eager third-graders, kindergarten buddies, and staff members who got to engage in “chick therapy,” holding them after school.

On day one, the incubator arrived with 18 eggs.

A few days after the hatch, we returned our chicks to the chicken breeder who originally provided the eggs. We were so sad to see them go. The classroom was so quiet. The whole experience was incredible and so unexpectedly rewarding. If we had it our way, we would go through the process every 21 days!

The newly-hatched chicks huddled together for comfort in the “brooder,” a safe, warm place where they were cared for until they were ready to go out into the bigger world.

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