Lively life science learning

School’s about to start, but these teachers were eager to learn! A dedicated group spent the day exploring genetics, habitats, and environment in the latest Chickenology workshop.

This event is sponsored by Ohio Poultry Association and the Ohio Soybean Council. Ten lessons include the topics of ancestry, genetics, environment, traits, cells, and artificial selection. These topics are covered in hands-on learning through design challenges, time challenges, and more. Group activities encourage communication of knowledge.

An engineering lesson has students designing a classroom incubator. The challenge is to create a controlled environment for hatching chicks or poults. Groups work on different aspects of the challenge to provide warmth, egg turning, humidity, oxygen, and nutrients.

To see how inherited traits impact survival, participants used various ‘beak’ options to pick up different sized dry beans in a limited amount of time. They then compared results to see what worked best: tweezers, chop sticks, a paper clip, or a spoon. This demonstrated the benefit of different heritable traits such as beak size and design.

Participant Brian Ackert teaches biology and chemistry at Danville High School. “I teach a lot of genetics and thought this would be a great opportunity to get new ideas. The workshop has been amazing. Everything we’ve done will be really engaging for my students. This is a great way to introduce them to the ag industry. If I can get my kids interested in that, it will benefit them in the future. Many students don’t know what they want to do, and there are so many job related to agriculture in our state.”

Erica Hitzhusen teaches middle school in Worthington. “Coming from a more suburban setting, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get some more information about potential careers for my students,” she said. “This helps me show the kids who are interested in genetics or engineering or animal science how those careers fit with agriculture.”

“Genetics and evolution concepts are a third of my school year,” Hitzhusen said. “These lessons will work well to cover these concepts.”

Join us in December for another Chickenology workshop!