LEHMAN TWP. — What came first — the chicken or the egg?
Heather Wertman’s first-grade class at Lehman-Jackson Elementary School in Lehman Township would answer, “the egg.”
The class monitored a dozen chicken eggs they had in an incubator since April 11.
The egg-hatching project was an idea Wertman developed after incorporating some hands-on activities centered around the folk tale of “The Little Red Hen.”
“We read two different stories about the Little Red Hen,” said Ashtun Pinn, a first-grader in Wertman’s class. “In one story the hen makes bread and in another, she makes a cake.”
The class made both bread and cake, but more in-depth lessons in biology, math and science were yet to come.
Wertman acquired a dozen chicken eggs from a local farm. She purchased an incubator and egg-hatching supplies from Tractor Supply Company in Hanover Township.
The days leading up to the first egg-hatching, the students monitored the incubator’s temperature and maintained a constant level of humidity.
“Every couple of days we would add water to that machine (incubator),” student, Kyra Blaine said. “The water had to be at room temperature.”
“The humidity had to be in the high 40s and 50s, so the baby chickens kept developing,” Hannah Sell, a first-grader, said.
Student Ava Blazes said the incubator had to be kept between 96 to 100 degrees.
On day 7, the students learned about candling.
“Candling is when you hold a flashlight up to an egg to see if it is a winner, a yoker or a quitter,” said Addie Morgan, a student of Wertman’s. “If you see veins inside the egg then it is a good egg, or a winner.”
But if no veins are visible then the egg is a yoker or an unfertilized egg, Morgan said. If candling shows a green or yellow color then it is a quitter or bad egg, she said.
Out of the dozen eggs, six hatched, with the first coming out Sunday, May 1, Wertman said.
“I always came in (to the school) on the weekends to check on the eggs,” Wertman said. “I saw the first one started to hatch Sunday.”
Wertman uploaded some photos of the newly hatched chick to an app called Class Dojo. Class Dojo is a secure app she uses to share class pictures with her students’ families.
“The news exploded,” she said. “Parents were just as excited as their children.”
On Monday, May 2, the students had a second surprise when another chick began to hatch.
The students learned how to hold the baby chickens. They had to wear plastic gloves and gently cup the bird in their two hands.
Upkeep of the baby birds was a constant factor.
“They mess up their food a lot,” River Morgan, a student, said. “We have to clean them up every day.”
“Every day their peeping gets louder,” said student Kate Hynick. “Mrs. Wertman puts vitamins in their (the chickens’) water.”
Two of the baby chicks are brown and four are yellow. The feather coloring had the students thinking the brown chickens were baby roosters but learned later that the coloring did not dictate the gender of the bird.
“They are just like us,” Miller Mattie said referencing how people have different color hair.
The students showcased their experiment and the six baby chicks at an academic fair held Thursday, May 5, at the school.
After the fair, the baby chickens will have a new home with a local farm, student Natalie Haddle said.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews