ALPENA — A new program designed to give children a hands-on look at how chickens hatch is being offered this spring.
The multiple week online embryology course is offered through Michigan 4-H and will provide hands-on learning for children. Embryology is the study of the development of embryos, unhatched offspring in the process of development.
The program is free and open to all youth, not just 4-H members.
Participants can choose to incubate their own eggs or participate by watching a series of online videos and worksheets. Kaelie Fessler, 4-H program coordinator for Presque Isle County, said students can expect to learn all things embryology — from the parts of an egg to how to care for chickens once they hatch.
“Studying embryology provides youth the opportunity to experience how life begins firsthand,” Fessler said. “It’s a way for youth to follow along from fertilization, development, and birth of a living being, not to mention they are so cute when they hatch.”
Fessler started presenting embryology on Facebook last March when she couldn’t continue her originally scheduled school enrichment programs in person. She said that, by June, her program was viewed over 8,500 times and by people as far away as the Philippines.
“The need for virtual education was quickly realized and I became part of a statewide program with Michigan State University Extension 4-H that created a virtual embryology education (program) that is now available for anyone desiring to teach embryology to youth,” she said.
The program takes people through the entire process with or without an incubator. Fessler said she supplies eggs and incubators to those who want a more hands-on approach. She said she is obtaining fertilized eggs from local farmers.
Fessler, along with two other instructors, will be monitoring a discussion forum to go along with the program.
This year Fessler said she is hoping kids get excited about embryology and science as a whole because it’s part of the experiential learning process, which is learning through doing.
“Any experience with kids in science that offers them the opportunity to have a first hand experience with materials right in front of them is obviously going to excite them more than just listen to something that they just don’t get to see in person,” she said. “That’s why my hope is the way they’re experiencing, observing, analyzing and then experimenting with this process, will just excite them a whole lot more about science in general.”
To learn more about or register for the program, visit canr.msu.edu/courses/michigan-4-h-embryology-course.