For many years, students in Patty King’s third grade classroom at Sandy Creek Elementary School have participated in a very special and highly anticipated chick hatching project.
Each year, King gets fertilized eggs from several area farms, and puts them into an incubator.
The students learn about chicken growth and development, and are even able to watch the chicks through a special microscope-type tool that projects a light through the shell of the egg and illuminates the growing chicken inside the egg.
The students eagerly count down the incubation timeline and as the hatching date nears, a video camera is set up on the incubator to broadcast the exciting hatching times via the Sandy Creek District website.
Timed to coincide with the school’s science fair, the chicks make their school-wide debut at the science fair along with lots of science data the students gather about the growth and development of the chickens.
During the hatching and first few days following, the chicks are video stars with a 24-hour “chick cam” streaming to the district website which allows students and visitors to the site an opportunity to watch the chicks hatch and then track their growth and progress.
“I’ve had students from the high school come up to me and say they watched the chicks hatch from home,” said King.
King uses the project to teach her students about many things aside from the obvious scientific study of the animal.
Since the eggs come from several sources, King teaches the students about genetics and identifying specific characteristics and traits associated with certain breeds of chicken to help identify where the egg could have come from and who the parent chickens could be.
In spite of all of the scientific knowledge the children gain, King is especially proud of the way the students learn other important lessons such as responsibility, respect and nurturing.
One of the toughest lessons the students learn, though, is letting the chickens go at the end of the experiment.
Each student, at some point in the process, has asked King if they can have “just one” to take home and keep, but the chicks are distributed back to the farms to carry on the tradition and generate future eggs, perhaps for next years’ chick project.