For me and my children, it began at the Museum of Science and Industry where we watched the chicks hatch in a giant incubator. Usually we would catch chicks in progress,scratching, pecking and some newly born, tired and wet. Seeing baby chicks hatch daily has been going on since 1956.
After our trip, my son and daughter would steal eggs from the refrigerator trying to warm them under lamps or pillows expecting their own miracle.
However, today in my school, first graders have it all when it comes to learning genetics. Six first grade classes have their own incubator and every year eggs that are fertilized are purchased and sit for 21 days. Students discuss the development of the embryo each day and halfwaythrough, a teacher candles each egg with a flashlight to see how they are doing.
In the past, incubators have been broken and in some classes, eggs did not hatch. Nevertheless, in my class, eight have hatched and students did understand that chicks may be sick or have other problems. Most seemed healthy and have not beaten each other up which has occurred before.
The excitement began on a Sunday which was day 20 and carried into Monday and Tuesday. At the beginning of school on day 21, two brown chicks were ready to be transferred to their makeshift fish tank of grain and water after hatching the night before.
Throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday, we watched them peck holes in the eggs, some eggs cracked all around, but, eventually, more brown and yellow joined their brothers and sisters in the fish tank. The classroom children were driven to the fish tank like a magnets some more reserved until they were called over to hold a chick while their picture was taken.
The classes had five days to watch them grow and I was surprised how they sprouted so quickly. And by the end of the week, the chickens were sent to various farms or donors.
We finally had to say goodbye, one we had already named Marvin.
School chicken hatching is an annual part of the first grade curriculum and in our class it was an exceptional experience. Even for me as I sent pictures to my own adult children responding with how cute, is that a real incubator and why didn’t we have that in school.
Times change but we can still plan a family field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry. Oh…wouldn’t that be fun! We could go to the Coal mine, the fairy castle, Yesteryear and we could get ice cream………
And, of course, the Hatchery!