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Chicks come to the classroom at Frontier Elementary

Third-graders at Tea Area’s Frontier Elementary experienced the excitement of hatching chicks in their classroom this fall.

Students in Sarah Smith’s class got to experience the process of embryology throughout the month of October and then got to see how their chicks had grown up in just four weeks.

“This is a great, hands-on experience for our whole class and our school. Not only does it teach them the process of a chick embryo, but it enforces responsibility in our classroom,” she said.

SDSU Extension 4-H developed the Chicks in the Classroom curriculum that was utilized in Smith’s classroom for the second year by Lincoln County 4-H Youth Program Adviser Wendy Sweeter.

“Bringing the Chicks in the Classroom curriculum to Tea Area brought a little bit of agriculture to the classroom. The kids were engaged in learning about how a chick develops in the egg and super excited to see some of them hatch,” Sweeter said.

Smith’s students got to share their chick hatching experience with other students, teachers and staff at Frontier.

“Our class also invited other classes in our school to come take a ‘Chicken Tour’ in our room. The tour consisted of multiple stations where students showcased and explained the egg laying process, the embryo development process, the functionality of the incubator (including successful temperature and humidity levels), how to safely handle chicks and finally they demonstrated the display chicken coops they engineered,” she said.

Besides sharing with other students, parents also got involved.

“After our chicks had been hatched a few days, parents of our students were invited in to help hold the baby chicks in small groups. We hosted seven parents who were able to come in during their lunch break to hold the baby chicks and supervise our third-graders in holding the chicks,” Smith said.

The curriculum consists of five weeks of programming. The first week students learn about the parts of the egg and the eggs are set in the incubator. The second week they learn about how the embryo is developing and the eggs are candled.

In the third week, they learn about the nutritional components of eggs. In week four, the eggs have hatched and they learn about the brooder and other chicken housing.

To wrap up the lessons, Sweeter brought two of the chicks back to the classroom to show the students how big they had gotten since they hatched in their classroom four weeks ago.

“We had a 11 eggs that looked like they were developing embryos when we candled them. Seven hatched and six survived. The kids really liked getting to see how their chicks were developing and how big they had gotten in one month since they hatched out of the eggs,” Sweeter said.

Thanks to funding from the America’s Farmers Grow Communities Bayer Fund these students were able to see how chicks develop and learned more about their food system. They took on the responsibility of recording the temperature and humidity of the incubator and then caring for the chicks after they hatched.

“My students enjoyed the increase in responsibility and hands-on learning this process required,” Smith said.

 Now in its second year in the county, Sweeter hopes to expand the Chicks in the Classroom curriculum to more classrooms throughout schools in the county.

The America’s Farmers Grow Communities Bayer Fund program seeks to give $5,000 grants to farming communities across rural America. They focus on a variety of STEM education efforts, food and nutrition, wellness and ag youth initiatives in rural communities where farmers live and work. They partner with winning farmers who know best which institutions and programs in their communities deserve funding.

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