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HUDSON -- It is safe to say not every kindergarten student passing through the halls of Hudson City Schools has attended class with a handful of young chickens.
Jonathan Shaw's students at Evamere Elementary School can, having watched 12 chicks hatch during a project-based lesson.
The idea for the project began with a collaboration between Shaw and his class aide, Sheryl Herter.
"She threw the idea out there that she wanted to try hatching some chicks and I said 'let's go for it,'" Shaw said.
The project began in early April after Herter purchased the eggs from an online hatchery and borrowed an incubator which housed the eggs for 21 days.
"So for the whole month of April we've been doing things on life cycles and chickens and eggs and animals that develop in eggs," Shaw said. "Pretty much all of our reading has been focused on it."
According to Shaw the students have done a lot with eggs.
"We did a science experiment where we dissolved the egg shell in vinegar, made rubber eggs and did another experiment where we had to tell the difference between a hard-boiled egg and a raw egg," he said.
The raw versus hard boiled egg was tested by cracking the egg over Shaw's head.
"The students really liked it when the egg dripped all over my head," he said.
The chicks, which have been on a live Internet stream, will be kept in the classroom until May 17. Then Sherter will take the chicks to her two-acre yard which is complete with a new chicken coop and awaiting new tenants.
"We are thinking of starting a Facebook page so the students can check in on the chicks this summer," Shaw added.
The project has brought an added learning experience to the classroom.
"For a lot of these students this is the first time they've seen a chicken being born," Shaw said. "And what we tried to do was get the whole school involved by doing morning announcements."
Chick birth updates have been given during morning announcements, keeping students and faculty apprised on the progress.
School-wide data was also collected with chick birth dates and which egg would hatch first.
"So pretty much all of the classrooms here have been watching the live camera," Shaw said.
Only one of the hatched eggs, No. 12, has had a hard time hatching on its own.
Little No. 12 began to hatch April 27 but could not break free from the shell. As the other 11 chicks were moved to a small pool-like area, Shaw leaped into action.
"I hand delivered or hand cracked the egg, No. 12, out," Shaw said. "Now we are trying to do all we can to nurse him back to health."
So far it appears that No. 13 may not hatch, but the class is holding out hope, according to Shaw.
Shaw said the lesson was a great way for students to make real-life experiences part of the everyday curriculm.
While this was Shaw's first experience with live animals in the classroom, it was old hat to Herter.
"I've done this for a lot of years," Herter said. "It's just fun and I'm going to be raising these."
The lesson was valuable for several reasons, one of which was teaching the lifecycle of the chicken, Herter said.
"It's easy to teach the lifecycle by showing a chick and an egg and saying this came from this," she said. "But these kids have learned so much and have seen a hands-on life cycle."
Herter, who showed the students how to candle eggs to see the chicks inside of them said it is unfortunate that egg No. 13 looks like it will not survive.
"That's the tough part of it but that's also life," she said.
According Herter there have been a lot of positive feedback from the lessons surrounding the eggs, including the notoriety the class has gotten.The students also asked their friends to make signs warning about too much noise, around the school so as not to disturb their feathered classmates, Herter said.
"We are live streaming it so we are like Hudson's version of April the giraffe," Herter said, lauging.
Depending on when classes let out the students may also get an added treat from another winged creature.
According to Herter a mother duck has set up her annual nest near one of the school doors. Once the ducklings are hatched, one of the maintenance workers usually parades the group to a nearby wetland area.
The lesson will mark a lasting impression on the children as they wind down their first year of class.
Sophie Thomas, 6, said she enjoyed the project
"I liked that Mr. Shaw helped No. 12 get out of its shell," Sophie said.
And while Sophie has not held one of the chicks, she was able to see one up close.
"We got to see one -- one pretty one," Sophie said.
Sophie has seen chickens before, she said. Sophie's favorite part of the lesson was "seeing the baby chicks and their peeping so cutely."
Ben Keenan, 6, said this was the first time he's seen chicks up close. He did say he has seen chicks in pictures and at the zoo.
"But never really super close up," Ben explained.
The experience was a lot of fun, according to Ben.
"It's just fascinating you can look at a chick and it is so pretty and fascinating," Ben said. "And watching them get out [of the shell] is so fun."
Ben explained the hatching process for the yellow speckled chicks first hand.
"Well, they make a hole with their beak. Then it starts cracking out and they have to use lots of energy -- they don't have mucn energy," according to Ben. "But they have to squeeze out of the egg. It's hard. They don't really have arms. They have wings."
Another student who enjoyed the process of watching a live chick hatch was Hadley Bennett, 5.
Hadley liked "when the chicks hatched and we got to see them," she said. This was the first time Hadley has seen chicks up close, she added.
"I like how they hatched open an egg," Hadley said.
A lesson which stuck to Hadley is how the chicks make yolks, which in turn helps "them crack open on their own."
Hadley enjoyed the lesson so much that she now wants to get some chickens for pets. However, according to Hadley, her parents might not enjoy the pet idea as much as their daughter.
"They would yell at me to bring them back," Hadley said.
The chicks will be live streamed until May 17. To view the newest members of Shaw's class visit https://goo.gl/TTpBYP.
There is a video slideshow with more pictures at www.hudsonhubtimes.com