Spring chicks hatch in Barkley classrooms during annual project

April 4, 2017

Spring has sprung, which means flowers are blooming, the sun is shining; and, at least at Barkley Elementary School…chicks are hatching.

Second graders in Cathy Poremba and Amanda Harrington’s classes recently welcomed new life into the world, as dozens of chicks pecked their way out of their shells and into the classrooms.

The school’s annual incubation project, which has become a favorite for students, provides a valuable springboard into important science, writing and math lessons in the second-grade curriculum. The students spend time looking at the embryos, making observations and writing daily journal entries.

The classes are equipped with incubators; fertile eggs from Cornell Cooperative Extension; a box where the chicks live during the first few weeks of life, also known as a “brooder;” an “egg-candling light,” essentially a flashlight that allows students to see the chicks developing inside the egg; along with chick feed and pine shavings.

“The incubator has a motor to warm up the eggs,” said Cody, a second grade student in Mrs. Poremba’s class. “It has to be between 99 and 100 degrees in there and you can’t keep the top off it for long because then the temperature will go down.”

With help from environmental educator and former Barkley parent, George Steele, the students began this month-long project in March. Mrs. Poremba’s class started the project off with 18 eggs. Students took turns turning each eggs three times a day, and at the end of the 21-day project, 12 of them had hatched.

“It was life being born!” said Olivia, a second grade student in Mrs. Poremba’s class.

Not only do the students have the opportunity to watch the chicks grow for 21 days inside the egg, they also get to observe their first four to five days inside the brooder. Afterward, the chicks go home to Steele’s farm.

“The students were a little sad when they came to school and the chicks weren’t here, but then they realized it’s better for the chicks to roam free on the farm,” said Mrs. Poremba.