New Feathers in the Family: The Science Behind Hatching Chickens at School
What better way to foster a love for science than through a hands-on, interactive experiment? And what could be more interactive than hatching chickens right in the classroom? When my son, a dedicated science teacher, decided to incorporate a chicken-hatching experiment into his curriculum, I insisted that I get the chickens after. My husband helped choose the eggs for the class. He chose eggs that were primarily Jersey Giants because of the egg size. Here’s a look at this fascinating project and the science that made it all possible.
The Experiment’s Setup
The experiment aimed to teach students about embryology, the science of the formation and development of an embryo. Chickens serve as an excellent example because they are relatively easy to care for, and their eggs are large enough to handle without damaging the embryo inside.
- Fertilized chicken eggs
- Hygrometer (to measure humidity)
- Candling light (for observing the egg’s interior)
- The fertilized eggs were placed in an incubator set to a constant temperature of 99.5°F (37.5°C) and a humidity level of 55–60%.
- The eggs were turned three times a day to prevent the embryo from sticking to the shell.
- Students used a candling light to observe the development of the embryos at various stages.
- After 21 days, the eggs were moved to a hatching tray and the temperature and humidity were slightly increased to facilitate hatching.
The Science Behind It
The chicken egg serves as a self-contained environment for the developing chick. It contains all the nutrients the embryo needs, including proteins, fats, and minerals. The eggshell is porous, allowing for the exchange of gases.
Throughout development, a series of biochemical processes occur, regulated by hormones such as progesterone. These processes include cell division, differentiation, and growth.