From Oct. 19 through Nov. 13, some 40 elementary classes participated in the Berks County 4-H Embryology Program. With three school districts participating, the program reached 743 students and 48 teachers, according to a press release from Berks County 4-H.
The participating schools were Wilson (fifth grade); Wyomissing (fourth grade) and Twin Valley (third grade).
During the pandemic, the Pennsylvania 4-H Embryology Program has produced lesson plans, videos and photos that can be used virtually.
Jo-Ann Ketterer, Berks County 4-H program assistant, delivered weekly lessons virtually to the classes.
“Mrs. Ketterer’s instruction is always great, but the fact that she was able to make the transition to delivering the material digitally, and make it look so seamless and engaging, was just more than we could have hoped for!” said Jen Richards, a fifth grade teacher at Green Valley Elementary School, in a statement.
Throughout the four-week program, the students were able to see the chick embryo develop through virtual candling of the eggs that were being incubated at Ketterer's home. They could see pictures and videos of candling from day four of embryology through day 20. Candling is the process of holding a light near the incubated egg to see the inner contents.
Another interactive part of the virtual lesson included Thelma, the hen, and her “Think u Bator.” The “Think u Bator” was Thelma’s nest. Each week the nest included items that went along with what the students would be learning during that lesson.
The fourth week of embryology is when the eggs hatch and the students can see the final process of incubation and the chick development. The students and teachers had access to a 24-hour livestream of the eggs hatching. Even though the students did not have eggs incubated in their classroom, they were still able to see the hatching process. Jean McRae teacher at Whitfield Elementary School said, “The students enjoyed seeing the live chickens on zoom as well as the candling. The favorite part of the unit for many students was watching the chicks on the livestream on hatch day.”
Students in Gwen Gibson’s Wyomissing class sent thank you notes to Ketterer, and one wrote, “Without your help, we would just crack an egg open for breakfast and wouldn’t explore the many amazing parts that we now know today ..."
For more information about the 4-H Embryology program, call the Berks County 4-H office at 610-378-1327.