A team of Illinois Extension specialists recently collaborated to update the popular Incubation and Embryology program to better serve teachers and Extension staff in Illinois. The University of Illinois Extension Incubation and Embryology program provides training for teachers grades K-12 to incorporate an incubation and embryology unit into their classroom curriculum. An Extension team of 4-H Youth Development, Extension and Outreach, Animal Sciences, and Extension Web Development experts collaborated to create more up-to-date training tools, new program evaluation methods, and functional online resources to provide more materials and support for the program. The team was nominated for the State Interdisciplinary Team Award of Excellence in recognition of their efforts improving the 4-H Incubation and Embryology Programming for the Northeast Portion of Region 1.
The Incubation and Embryology program provides hands on learning experiences where youth learn about the life cycle and habitats of a chick while developing significant science, observation, and critical thinking skills. During the 21-day incubation period, students learn to prepare eggs, set up an incubator, record progress, turn eggs, and test eggs for fertility. Students then witness surviving chicks hatch and grow to become independent outside the egg, as well as learn to cope with loss when eggs fail to hatch.
To provide teachers with the resources needed for an Incubation and Embryology unit, Extension offers training and materials to meet the four goals of the program:
1. To increase student knowledge and develop personal confidence and leadership ability through embryology project activities.
2. To develop youth interest in the science of embryology
3. To provide learning experiences in incubation, hatching, and brooding.
4. To provide opportunities to demonstrate skills mastered in embryology.
Illinois Extension offers training, educational, and curriculum resources for teachers to successfully conduct an Incubation and Embryology unit in their classroom and meet the learning objectives of the program. Extension’s teacher programming includes two training sessions – one beginning and one advanced, a classroom implementation plan, and evaluations. A new website feature also available now is “Ask the Eggspert”, a forum where teachers can post specific questions or concerns they have about the unit and an Extension Specialist responds with solutions or advice. The Ask the Eggspert web page can be found: http://web.extension.illinois.edu/askextension/index.cfm?AskSiteID=92
Overall, the Incubation and Embryology program hopes to make learning fun and interesting for students. First-year teacher Elizabeth Kee felt the incubation and embryology program offered her students a unique and significant hands-on learning opportunity. “I thought back to my first grade experience and didn’t recall the tests or homework, but I did remember those hands-on moments in the classroom that made the year special,” said Kee. “I really wanted it to be a meaningful year for my first students, and this project nailed it.” Kee said the Incubation and Embryology program made her students excited and engaged to learn. “They couldn’t wait to come to the classroom every day and took pride in the chicks.”
Additional Extension resources for teachers on Incubation and Embryology can be found: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/eggs/about.html