The students at West End Elementary have met some new fine, feathered, fluffy friends this week, after five duck eggs hatched at the school.
Two classrooms are now home to the baby ducks, nestled in boxes filled with soft shavings and equipped with water dishes and warming lamps. Expectations are high that they will see some chicks sometime soon, as well.
Classrooms have been filled with much anticipation as chicken and duck eggs rested in incubators for the last month. This is the fourth year the school has done this, using donated eggs from area farmers and having incubators holding four to five eggs in each science class.
“Our second grade science standard is all about life cycles,” explained teacher Kenneth Futch. “This focuses on life cycles of birds and allows the students to see this process firsthand.”
Futch added that teachers ask their students where do chicken eggs come from and the most popular answer usually refers to the grocery store.
“Then we ask them where they think the stores get the eggs from and there’s a lengthy pause,” he said, smiling. “This activity gives the students the realization that chickens, ducks and other birds hatch from eggs. They are not animals that just appear on farms. They grow and are cared for just like people.”
Since the project began, the school has hatched eight ducks and 15 chicks. Futch explained that the school usually gives the babies back to the farmers that donated the eggs, but also have partnered with Berry College to distribute the ducks and chicks.
The students have — mostly — patiently waited for the new arrivals.
The Friday before the eggs were set to hatch, several students in Futch’s class were in “can’t wait” mode.
“I think this is awesome,” said Cristian Pelico, a second-grader. “I can’t wait to see them.”
Monserrat Amiyah agreed.
“I’ve never experienced an egg hatching,” said Monserrat. “It’s pretty amazing.”
Futch and his fellow teachers candled the eggs to show the students the progress of the ducks and chicks as they waited.
“We candle them when we first get them and show the students how empty — essentially — the eggs are and then re-candle the eggs every three to four days to show growth and development over time,” Futch said. “The students get very excited seeing changes, especially near the end of the incubation period when you can see the bird’s shadow moving.”
Assistant principal Dennis Drummond is in his first year at West End, so he is enjoying seeing what effect the feathered additions to his school have on his students.
“I love seeing the kids get an opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience,” Drummond said.
Of course, the eggs didn’t hatch before the weekend, so several teachers visited the school over the weekend to check on their little charges. Futch and fellow second-grade teacher Courtney Cescutti made several trips and finally were rewarded with some hatched ducklings on Sunday afternoon. Two hatched in Futch’s room and two in Cescutti’s, plus one more decided to make an appearance on Sunday night in Cescutti’s room.
The teachers are trying to come up with a fair way to name the new additions, they said, because many children and teachers have ideas.
“I named one Roxanne,” laughed second-grade teacher Erin Davis. “She kept rocking back and forth in her egg every time they candled it.”