BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
SHARON (October 8) – Four weeks ago, Weakley County Schools CTE Director Lindsey Parham gifted Danielle VanCleave’s second graders at Sharon with a dozen guinea eggs. The children’s curiosity and an incubator on loan from the self-professed “crazed chicken lady” Parham, have hatched an enthusiasm for agriculture and some potential future farmers.
Ahlee, Quenten, Sierra, Cash, Cannon, Chloe and Annabelle have been somewhat patiently – a word Quenten can tell you means “waiting to see” – what would emerge from the eggs each adopted upon delivery. Every Thursday they turned their attention to the incubator and observed the changes.
The first week, the process of shining the light into the egg called candling, revealed the small embryo. The second week, they saw what appeared to be veins they said. The third week they were joined in their check-ins by Parham, Instructional Supervisors Terri Stephenson and Donald Ray High, Principal Michelle Clements and Assistant Principal Beth Davidson to see the dark spots had gotten much bigger and their chicks were growing.
Last week the waiting paid off.
Three chicks pecked their way to freedom.
Though that means some of the anticipated guineas did not survive, Parham was available to help explain what is needed for successful hatching and help the children see the various stages of growth each embryo had achieved.
“The beauty of hands-on experiences like this one is the students get to see science in action,” explained Parham, who has been slowly growing her own family’s diverse chicken flock over the past year. “Yes, it’s sad to see what you had anticipated not come to be but the joy of seeing new life and knowing you had a hand in it is inspiring.”
The eggs and incubator-watching have helped students explore English Language Arts as they completed tasks like compare and contrast, using adjectives, writing their observations and feelings, expressing opinions and practicing scientific skills such as observation and monitoring change.
“Students also experienced character-building as they became responsible for filling the incubator with water and ensuring it was doing its job of gently rotating the babies in their shells,” said VanCleave.
The students can now tell visitors how a guinea differs from a “normal chicken” (bigger bodies) and one of the benefits Parham finds for having them on her farm (“they eat ticks so they won’t get on her children”).
And an excerpt from the written observations of Quenten, a potential paleontologist according to his plans this week, on the day the chicks hatched is quite possibly the best incentive for Parham to continue offering eggs and incubators to classrooms and VanCleave to keep up the hands-on opportunities:
“They are so cute. I am so happy…This day is the best day ever.”