Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Well what's the point in hatching chicken eggs if you can't eat them?" ~Scottie

Today was one of my favorite days in the classroom. Our chicken eggs arrived! I've been incubating chicken eggs in the classroom ever since my first year. The 4H program makes it absolutely fool-proof. They deliver the incubator, the eggs, and all the materials I need for a successful hatch, along with lesson plans and posters to help the kids understand exactly what's going on inside that little mysterious white shell. It takes 21 days for chicken eggs to hatch and when they do, buddy, lookout! The entire school gets excited and classes full of kids come marching through the classroom to watch the big event.

What I love most are all the wonderful questions kids have. The two most popular questions are: Can we keep them when they hatch? and Are we going to eat them? (They have better ones that that, but these are the funniest!) The answer to both, of course, is NO. According to 4H, the eggs come from a breeding farm that specializes in rare breeds of chickens and they get schools to do the hatching for them, then they put the adult chickens in shows (kind of like dog shows, except with chickens). I don't know if that's true, but it helps me keep my moral sense about me. I couldn't bear the thought of sending my kids' chickens to an eatery!

This year is extra exciting - we have someone else in the building who has done this before! To be honest, in the past I've been very scared and insecure about hatching chickens. It's a big deal and one year I had a half-hatched chicken that almost made me cry. I don't like opening the incubator or touching the eggs for fear of screwing up the hatch. Our PSA has done this before in a real, live, elemetary school science lab, and he knows how to CANDLE the eggs! That means he can hold them up to the light and show the kids the veins of the embryo growing on the inside, plus he can tell if they're fertilized or not. That is SO COOL! I can't wait to see how to do that.

The next three weeks are going to be so exciting. It's the closest I'll get to having any babies anytime soon (to Scottie's dismay) and it's just the shot in the arm my kids need to get through these grueling test-driven weeks. Hooray for fourth grade!!


Meredith said...

Wow! I can't wait to "candle" the eggs.

Mariel said...

Well said.