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Agriculture in classroom ‘hatches’ excited learners

From left, shown with newly-hatched chicks are Kinsley Sheilds, Madilyn Walker, and Heather Shipley.

United Local Elementary School collaborated with The Ohio State University Extension Office in Columbiana County to provide agriculture in the classroom through the ChickQuest program.

The second-grade team of teachers, Abbie Weimer, Laura Shepard, Angie Phelps, and Brenda Sarchet helped implement the program within their classrooms.

Throughout the ChickQuest program over 80 students were able to watch the 21-day life cycle of the embryonic chicken egg change and grow into a chick. Each day, new lessons were completed to show the changes within the eggs and offered hands on learning experiences for the students to explore.

Students acted as scientists throughout the program and learned to make observations, record keeping through data collection and used the scientific method to discover new information about eggs.

Day 12 of the program brought excitement to the students as they participated in candling the eggs. Candling is a procedure used to observe the growth and development of an embryo inside an egg. The use of a bright light behind the egg shows detail through the eggshell and allows the students to understand if the egg was fertilized and growing.

Hunter Jones with a chick.

“My favorite part of ChickQuest was the candling because we could see the egg and we could see if we were doing a good job at taking care of the chicks,” said second grader Claire Medure.

Day 20 and 21 were proud moments for the students as they watched the hatching process with anticipation. Weimer offered live feed video projected on the whiteboard for students to watch the process continuously as they did not want to miss anything. The students were excited to reach the end of the cycle and see the moment when new life finally worked its way out of the comforts of its shell.

“It was fun watching them hatch in the incubator” said second grader Briar Nelson. “It was very loud when they peeped.”

Bringing agriculture into the classroom has proven to be a great opportunity for all students. They have received instruction and hands-on learning experiences that teach a very important process. Students were able to explore and think creatively within a process they can utilize throughout a multitude of other learning experiences. It has allowed for teachers as well to think creatively about expansion of this program for future students.

Frank Baker, Assistant Principal, would like to see the program grow to where in the future they can keep the chicks and continue the learning process and house them on site which would lead to the production of eggs. The community was supportive of this learning experience as each newly-hatched chick from this session had a home to go to for continued growth.

In the coming months the second grade team will continue to work closely with The Ohio State University Extension Office of Columbiana County to provide students with curriculum on plant life and lessons on force and motion through the exploration of rockets.

As the 4-H Extension Educator, I firmly believe strong collaborations with our local school districts will continue to strengthen our students and their knowledge of the world around them and opportunities available. Together we can continue to encourage creative thinking, hands on learning experiences, and opportunities for future success in an ever-changing world.

— Submitted material

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