Bret Harte and Shoesmith Elementary work together to hatch chicks

Kindergartener Terrill Curry made a new baby chick friend at Beulah Shoesmith Elementary, 1330 E. 50th St. after Bret Harte Elementary lent the school their baby chicks after both schools completed the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Incubation and Embryology Classroom Extension program. – Photo courtesy of Shoesmith Elementary School

Herald Intern

Bret Harte Elementary and Beulah Shoesmith Elementary schools partnered with the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign’s Incubation & Embryology for School Classrooms extension program this spring, and had their baby chicks hatch last week after a 21-week incubation period.

The hands-on project is designed by the University of Illinois to provide elementary and high school students the opportunity to hatch chicks in their own classroom and develop youth interest in the science of embryology. During the incubation period, students learn how to prepare eggs, set up the incubator, record progress, turn eggs, and test eggs for fertility. Throughout the program, students are introduced to all aspects of the life cycle from the structure of an egg and its nutrient composition to the stages of embryonic development.

Jorge Garcia, a kindergartener at Beulah Shoesmith Elementary, 1330 E. 50th St., loved getting to hold this baby chick after his class completed the University of Illinois’ Incubation and Embryology Classroom Extension program. – Photo courtesy of Shoesmith Elementary School

“We’ve been a part of this program for as long as I can remember,” said Bret Harte Pre-K teacher Rebecca Brown. “It’s a great educational experience for the children. Our classroom named our group of hatchlings the ‘fluffy’ family. The students learned about the stages of development during the chicks’ incubation period and they were really excited to have two chicks hatch by the end of the cycle.”

In Bret Harte Elementary, 1556 E. 56th St., students from Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 5th and 6th grade participated in the project and had nearly a dozen chicks hatch last week.

: Pre-K students from Bret Harte Elementary School, 1556 E. 56th St., carefully studied the newly hatched baby chicks in their classroom with their teacher Rebecca Brown. The students named the chicks the “fluffy family”. – Photo courtesy of Bret Harte Elementary School

Unfortunately, the eggs at Beulah Shoesmith Elementary, 1330 E. 50th St., weren’t as lucky.

“Our chicks didn’t make it,” said Shoesmith Principal Sabrina Gates. “However, our students took this as an opportunity to learn more about the project and figure out what could be done better next time. Bret Harte learned of our situation and were kind enough to lend us their chicks so our students could experience that part of the life cycle.”

According to Gates, students at Shoesmith will move on to dissect the eggs that didn’t hatch to study the embryology process further. The students at Shoesmith will also get the opportunity to study the stages of life through the life cycle of a butterfly, as they examine how caterpillars go through their chrysalis period and become butterflies in the coming weeks; as well as the growing stages of a tadpole.

“We were really happy to work together in this project, and look forward to teaming up again,” said Gates.