Walk into most third grade classrooms and you may hear the sounds of children, the voice of the teacher or announcements over the intercom.
What you probably would not expect to hear is the sound of newly hatched chicks.
The third grade classes have been learning about eggs and chicks for weeks.
Jennifer Guerin, a third grade teacher at Lydiksen, says the classes start the annual chick-raising process by learning about the parts of the egg.
“They crack open store-bought eggs to see what is inside,” she said. “Next, students had to correctly identify the parts and label a diagram. We did experiments with the eggs in vinegar, fresh water and salt water to learn about calcium carbonate. We addressed many state standards as we incorporate math, science, writing, reading, and art."
"Children also learn about temperature, counting, the meanings of egg phrases, survival of the fittest and life-cycle vocabulary," she said.
According to Guerin, retired teachers Ann Kyle and Lynn Biddinger began the tradition of raising chicks in third grade 15 years ago at Lydiksen after being asked by a parent, Karen Rodriguez, to raise chicks for the science fair.
“This year, some of the eggs were donated to the third grade classes from the Cook family of Pleasanton and the rest of the eggs were purchased from the Brookside Ranch in Clayton,” said Guerin.
Guerin says at the beginning of March, the classes put the eggs into incubators. They started with 200 eggs and ended up with about 60 hatchlings.
“The children kept a ‘chick chart’ to document the progress each day,” said Guerin. “Every day a student checked the thermometer on the incubator. We labeled the parts of the chicks at 72 hours. On day 15, we ‘candled’ the eggs to see if they were transparent or very dark. We could see the blood vessels and even some movement and fluttering.”
On March 27, day 21 for the eggs, the class was suddenly bursting with chicks, which now are living in a small swimming pool at the front of the classroom.
“We were able to see some of the shells the chicks hatched from as they emerged and we have a chart on the wall to see where they were as they developed each day until they hatched,” said Guerin.
Hannah, 9, says she likes the sounds of the chicks “chirping.”
“The most exciting part was to see the ones that weren’t developing and we got to crack open the egg and see what the embryo looks like,” said Hannah.
“The chicks are light when you lift them,” said Garrett, 9.
Dania, also 9, says this is something she has always wanted to do.
“Seeing the chicks hatch was really interesting. I have always wanted to see something like this,” she said. “And the ‘peeps’ are pretty adorable.”
Guerin says this project is one that is often mentioned as being the “most memorable” during the fifth-grade graduation ceremony comments.
“Raising chicks is a memorable experience that third graders look forward to each year at Lydiksen,” said Guerin. “I hope we will continue this 'egg-citing' tradition for years to come.”
Guerin says the chicks will go back to the farm this Friday.