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3rd grade students raise chicks

Third grade students at Meyersdale Area Elementary School are literally “cracking” up over their latest project! Under the wing of Mrs. Amy McKenzie, students spent the month of May caring for chicks as part of their embryology unit, students prepared 30 eggs for incubation and as of May 28, welcomed 12 new little ones to their classroom.

“We have been doing this project for several years through the Penn State Cooperative Extension,” explained McKenzie.

Penn State Cooperative Extension provides all necessary equipment, including an incubator and  workbooks, to make this a truly enriching experience.

Throughout the process, students are able to witness the growth of the embryo inside the egg through candling, or using a light to see through the evry thin shell. McKenzie said students “candled” the eggs three times to see the developmental process. The incubation period lasts approximately 21 days.

Students learned about the necessary temperatures for a successful hatching of a clutch or group of eggs. They also learned humidity and position of the eggs must be monitored carefully. Students charted the progress of their clutch with drawings and observations.

Throughout the incubation project, McKenzie taught students about the importance of the American farmer and the source of foods we enjoy each day. Through lessons on commodities, students learned the vital role farmers play in our country’s economy. For example, the U.S. has more than 336 million hens producing eggs each year.

McKenzie said this is a favorite unit for students and staff alike, as everyone watches with great excitement to see those first cracks appear in the eggs.

“This is a lot of excitement for our students and they love having the ‘chick countdown’,” McKenzie explained. “It's important that students understand where their food comes from the process farmers go through to put food on our tables. While many students understand, for some, this experience is the first time they truly understand what farmers do for us.”

At the conclusion of the unit, the chicks are “adopted” by students and staff members, making this a truly “eggs-cellent” experience!

The chicks have hatched!