ChickQuest: MORE than just hatching chicks!

Marti Mercuri of Broadleigh Elementary shares about her experience with the ChickQuest program:

I am so thrilled with the Chickquest project. Even though I don’t have my own class, I borrowed a third grade class and we did EVERY STEM activity in the booklet—every wonderful, thought provoking one! The students have had little hands-on science experience so they were thrilled to be so active. I would say they were most engaged when they had to create their own nest. We did this outside after watching a video of different birds creating nests. The robin does an amazing action with its chest to smooth out the mud. The weaver bird is too clever but the bowerbird wins the prize because it decorates the nest to attract a mate. The students used some of these examples in their nest-building activity: they gathered items that they found on the playground to construct their nests, and some used flowers to decorate the nest to attract a mate.

The Egg Catching Machine was another of the students’s favorite activities. Using the language of “create, design, prototype and engineer” got the students thinking and talking like scientists. Pairs of students presented their machine before the class. We discussed proper posture and projecting their voice during their presentation. Each group went on to modify their project and present again to see if they were successful after they redesigned their machine.

We even did the commercials! The students laughed as I presented my example commercial—I rapped a tune as I attempted to “beat box” a rhythm. I created a rubric so that they could rate the teams as they presented their commercial, and I gave awards to the team with the most points. (A special education student was part of that team. She was thrilled to have won.)

After spring break, the eggs arrived and I kept the data on the poster and told the students that they didn’t need to come back until the babies were due. Oh, the excitement! Some of the students were with me during the actual hatching and they were in awe of the gift of life that was unfolding right before their eyes. I know they will never forget that moment. I was amazed when one of the kids asked how I got them out! (“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought. “Did we not just cover this?!”)

The babies are only one day old now, and they want to name them. We lost four chicks and I told them I would take them home and bury them. One was very sick. I took him out of the incubator after about 8 hours and just held him. We named him “Hopeful”. I will see if he survived tomorrow!

I not only shared this experience with the third graders, but I also brought in three other classes to educate them about the eggs, incubator, predators, and the life cycle of chickens.

More importantly than the STEM lessons, the students were collaborating, measuring, creating, problem solving and THINKING! They have also had the wonderful experience of watching a living thing being born and feeling like proud parents. So, to you the CHICKQUEST designers – thank you! On behalf of these impoverished, deprived of memorable lessons and experiences - thank you!

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