“I want them to realize they have a school, administrators and teachers that care about them and want them to have the most opportunities possible. I feel like hands-on experiences, especially with science, are so important to aid in that. It’s one thing to read or watch a video on it but it’s a whole different thing to actually see it.”
Chanel Dean, a STEM teacher at Park Creek, recently received a grant from the Whitfield County Farm Bureau to hatch baby chicks in her classroom.
Dean was encouraged to apply for the grant when Principal Will Esters left forms in her mailbox. She initially didn't know what approach she wanted to take, until she remembered something from when she was in elementary school.
"When I was in fourth grade we incubated chicks in my class and hatched them," Dean said. "I still remember it to this day. It was so exciting, and I thought that it might be a really cool idea to do with our students because a lot of them have never had this experience or have seen an actual chicken."
The grant allowed Dean to purchase a large incubator to hold 17 eggs. However, Dean's mother let her borrow a smaller incubator to be able to hold 8 more eggs. The eggs were placed inside the incubator on February 17th and are expected to hatch on March 11th.
Students, teachers and parents can view and access the progress of the eggs through a YouTube livestream. After the eggs hatch, Dean will keep the chicks at Park Creek for a few days so the students can enjoy seeing them grow and develop.
"The eggs came from my mom's farm so we thought it would be the best of both worlds if they can see them hatch, experience them growing up and then safely return them to the farm." Dean said.
Hatching these chicks is not just an exciting actuality for students, but there is also an important educational value to take away from this unique experience.
"There is a standard for every grade and I'm trying to keep it interesting by having a letter board of developmental pictures," Dean said. "We always talk about what is happening inside the egg for that day, what it looks like and what they're going to look like when they hatch."
According to Dean, the positive feedback and level of engagement from her students have taken her by surprise.
"I have actually been shocked by how engaged the kids have been because they just want to know everything," Dean said. "They're asking questions, learning and taking in the information which is all that really matters."
Dean recognizes the importance of applying hands-on learning in a classroom environment. She is hopeful that, like her, the students will not only learn valuable lessons but also have a fond memory to look back on in the future.
"I want them to realize they have a school, administrators and teachers that care about them and want them to have the most opportunities possible," Dean said. "I feel like hands-on experiences, especially with science, are so important to aid in that. It's one thing to read or watch a video on it but it's a whole different thing to actually see it."