Victoria Stone knows how to quiet noisy kindergarten students.
She puts three unhatched eggs and an incubator in their classrooms.
"The incubators are going to hear your voices and they might not hatch if you are loud in your classrooms. The best part is watching them hatch. Only my quietest classes get to watch," Stone said.
She read a book to the children which explained the stages of development of the chickens inside and outside the egg. She explained that an incubator is a "robot chicken."
Through Maryland Extension and grant funds, Cecil County 4-H provides the incubation and embryology project at all the local elementary schools. For chickens, the incubation period takes about three weeks until they hatch. The classrooms receive the pre-incubated eggs two weeks into the incubation period. Students and teachers care for and monitor the eggs. After hatching, the newborn chicks remain in classrooms for observation for up to three weeks.
Stone provides support in the classrooms. She teaches practical lessons in the classrooms three times during the embryology unit. Students learn about feeding, bedding, and warming the peeps.
Now that they've learned what happens inside an egg, this week, if all goes as planned, the chickens will hatch in Charlestown.
Stone said the weather has had an impact on the hatching this year. She said that due to weather predictions, some teachers took incubators home earlier in the year. "Principals, custodians checked on (incubators) that were still at schools. We had a lot of surrogates this year," Stone said.
The program started a few years ago at just one school, Bainbridge Elementary. It has now expanded so that every kindergarten class in Cecil County Public Schools hosts the hatching. Good Shepherd Catholic School also now has the program. Stone said the program is now expanding again. High school biology classes are hatching the chicks but will focus on genetics. Next year, seventh graders will study it as part of the Science curriculum.
The chickens aren't the only ones hatching. Stone is expecting a baby this summer.