LEESPORT, Pa. – Fourth grade students at Schuylkill Valley Elementary recently completed the 4-H Embryology School Enrichment program offered by Penn State Extension. During the four-week lesson, students had the opportunity to observe the 21-day cycle of embryo development through the hatching of the chicks.
Mrs. Schucker, a fourth-grade teacher at Schuylkill Valley Elementary School, called it the “chick experience”. She said, by having the fourth-grade students participate in the 4-H Embryology project, they now have a broader sense of what Embryology means. According to Mrs. Schucker, “doing the Embryology program not only provides the students with the opportunity to learn about chicks and their development, it also teaches them about the care of animals and how they provide for the greater good.” Just like in the 4-H Pledge where 4-H says for our community, country and our world, being able to provide the 4-H Embryology program gives the students a greater sense of belonging.
During the four-week program, students had the opportunity to observe the full 21-day cycle of the embryo development through candling (shining a bright light through the egg shell) the eggs and learning how the parts of the egg provide for the developing chicken embryo. Students also had responsibilities in their classroom, to help manage the classroom incubator and turn the eggs. They used science based inquire skills in observing, comparing, measuring and data recording throughout the program.
Students in Mrs. Schucker’s class talked about how they watched the embryo develop inside the egg. When asked what they learned during the Embryology program, Dakota Deeter said that the egg has an air cell, which the chick pokes first to get its first breathe of air when hatching. Everyone’s favorite part was watching the chicks hatch and having them in their classroom for the week.
Olivia Steinke and Madyson Lackner both said they enjoyed getting to experience the whole program, especially having the opportunity to hold a chick. Since they are not from a farm, they got to experience and learn a little bit about nature and what it takes to care for a chick. Dominic Szilli, said he learned how to care for the chicks while they were in the classroom.
In Ms. Schneiderhan’s fourth grade classroom, students were asked what they shared with their family. Erin said she talked about the parts of an egg with her family. She had them crack open an egg, so she could talk about the shell, yolk, albumen and the germ spot. Other students in Mr. Shuman’s fourth grade classroom also shared that they enjoyed getting to turn the eggs and they got to see the embryo grow during candling.
The 4-H Embryology School Enrichment program is provided by the Berks County 4-H program to teach students the life cycle of organisms through the National Science Standards. The program uses the experiential learning model to help the students learn through hands on experiences.
Administered in Pennsylvania by Penn State Extension, 4-H is a community of more than 6 million young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills. Penn State Extension 4-H youth development educators in all 67 counties throughout the commonwealth administer local 4-H programs through non-formal education and outreach. To find your local program, visit the Penn State Extension website at https://extension.psu.edu/programs/4-h.