NEW HAVEN — After patiently waiting for 23 days, several baby chicks finally emerged at New Haven Elementary to the eager faces of Shayla Blackshire’s fourth grade class.
An annual activity for Blackshire and her students, her class has been studying life cycles, particularly the life cycle of an egg becoming a chick. The students also learned the importance of temperature, since the hatching of chicks normally takes 21 days, but due to some temperature changes their eggs took 23 days before any hatching began.
The students were also able to clear up the misconception that all baby chicks are yellow, since some of the chicks they had were black. Blackshire also covered the chicks “egg tooth,” which is a sharp point on the chick’s beak that serves much like a can opener when the chick is hatching.
Now that some of the chicks are hatched, some of the students, who had a parent present, were able to take them home on Thursday via a pet carrier and a bag of feed, donated by Southern States of Point Pleasant.
“We’re making memorable experiences and this is something they’ll never forget,” Blackshire said about the activity.
A new feature to the event this year was the addition of a webcam, which allowed the students and anyone with Internet access to view the incubator at any time throughout the day to watch for any movement among the eggs.
“It’s been phenomenal,”Blackshire said about the webcam.
Blackshire continued, saying the webcam had been viewed over 1000 times throughout the project and was a source for a great deal of excitement when the eggs started to hatch. Blackshire said when one person saw movement in an egg, they contacted another person, who then also spread the word to someone else. The live stream not only allowed students to check on the progress of the activity, but also allowed parents and grandparents and other friends to be involved as well.
Though Blackshire and the students thought the experiment was coming to a close, they were also in for a surprise yesterday as a few more chicks hatched before their eyes.
“I will never forget seeing the birth of a baby chicken,” one student said.
As with any school activity, the teachers also learn alongside the students. Blackshire said they will use the webcam again during the project next year, but hope to possibly use an high definition camera in order to provide a clearer picture for the online viewers.
Blackshire said she first started holding this activity in her classroom three years ago, once with kindergarten students and the last two with her fourth grade class.
With the assistance of Rodney Wallbrown and Lorrie Wright from the WV Extension Services, the students began this activity on Feb. 25, placing the eggs in an incubator provided by Sean and Kim Cullen. The eggs were also donated from the Hart Farm in Leon.
Blackshire also mentioned Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Johnson, New Haven’s technology teachers for assisting with the webcam.