Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

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Pretty heady question for your morning isn’t it? Believe it or not, I’m not trying to spark a philosophical, theoretical, or religious debate by asking this question. I’m merely announcing that for the next few months, the answer for more than 60 second and third grade classrooms in Robeson County will be the egg. That’s because we are getting ready to hatch into 4-H Embryology, one of our favorite spring learning activities.

What is Embryology? So glad you asked. It is literally the study of the embryo. In this case, we are studying chicken embryos as part of the life cycle section of the standard course of study in North Carolina second grade classrooms. You see, for many folks, they remember having 4-H Clubs in their schools. However, for decades, we have worked with clubs in the community and supported our teachers with research-based, hands-on curriculum, which they can offer in their classrooms to enhance student learning. Embryology is one of the largest models we have statewide to do this. One of the great things about this is, thanks to our United Way funds, teachers and students get this experience for no monetary cost to them.

How does it work? We loan the teachers incubators, thermometers, shavings, chicken food, and give them the curriculum and eggs. We provide each teacher with training and let him or her take it into the classroom. What we have noticed is the more hands-on the students are, the more they take away from the experience. They can help with turning the eggs, checking the temperature, and making sure there is enough water in the incubator. We also have hands-on activities where they can candle (kind of like an x-ray) the egg and make sure the embryo is growing. They can also learn about the parts of an egg, the parts of a chicken, and how to take care of living things, as they get to see the eggs hatch. It is a project that will stay with them for a lifetime.

One of the other activities we implement at the teacher’s discretion is Glo-germ. That is a fun way to learn about germs and how to properly wash their hands. Youth actually have the opportunity to see the germs they can pick up just walking around a classroom and how to correctly wash them away.

I know you have one last question – what happens to the chickens that are hatched? Do not fret. They go to folks who have approved backyard flocks and get to live happy lives. Some of our folks even send notes and pictures back to the classroom to let the students know what a great job they did playing momma hens and hatching the eggs, which definitely came first in this case.

For more information, please contact Shea Ann DeJarnette, Extension 4-H Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at 671-3276, by E-mail at shea_ann_dejarnette@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at https://robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.

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Photo of Shea Ann DeJarnetteShea Ann DeJarnetteExtension Agent, 4-H Youth Development (910) 671-3276 shea_ann_dejarnette@ncsu.eduRobeson County, North Carolina
Posted on Mar 4, 2015
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