ACUSHNET — Spring is peeping through eggshells at Acushnet Elementary School.
Baby chicks began hatching in an incubator in Jill Macolini’s second-grade classroom on April 1.
“If you pet a chick softly with one hand, it’ll calm them down,” said Acadia Alves. Her favorite was a black-feathered baby chick who she named Chocolate.
The entire second grade, a total of 107 students, recently learned of a frog’s life cycle and Macolini spoke of incubating baby chicks in previous years’ classes. One of her students, Wyatt Anderson, spoke up about his family’s experience with incubating chicks. After asking his family if they wouldn’t mind donating some eggs and using their incubator, Macolini brought back the project from the past, and now the students have the chance to see the life cycle happen before their eyes.
Anderson’s family has their own miniature animal farm at home, with 36 chickens, ducks, goats and dogs. He said this is his sixth time hatching.
Before hatching, 16 eggs remained under the lamp for 21 days.
“The embryo was very tiny,” second-grader Ana observed.
Second-grader Connor said his favorite part was the candling process, where the light in the incubator highlighted the outline of the chick inside the eggs.
While patiently waiting for the first chick to hatch, Macolini began a livestream of the incubator on YouTube one week prior to their arrival for students to observe socially distanced. Students are learning and journaling the process of a chick’s life cycle, watching the chicks pull themselves out of their shells and become familiar with their surroundings.
“Our whole school watched them at lunchtime and saw one hatch,” Macolini wrote in an email.
She sent the livestream to Ford Middle School so they could join the livestream.
Now that 13 chicks have said “hello” to the world, teachers and staff are taking turns bringing them home.
Second grade paraprofessional Deb Medeiros took home a few home along with three unhatched eggs still in the incubator, with two more hatching in her care on Good Friday. There was one injured chick, named Tyson, as he was a fighter. She gave him electrolytes and he sprung back to life.
Second grade teacher Amory Fasoli took home most of the chicks to care for them over the long weekend and her children have been caring for them when not in school, Macolini said.
Students said their favorite part was letting the chicks out after hatching, seeing the chicks were different colors. Some were completely yellow, some black with gray markings. Butterball, a yellow chick with painted toes to distinguish it from the others, was a class favorite.
“This is the most normal thing all year,” Medeiros said. “The kids are so excited to come in each day, skipping on their way in.”
In the past, Macolini worked with Twin Cedar Farm for egg and incubator donations for many years. It wasn’t until the idea was brought up again that the project made a comeback.
Soon the chicks will return home with Anderson.
“I’m sad to see them leave today to go to another class,” said Ava Mourao. “I want to take one home.”
Mourao is new to Acushnet Elementary and said that she loves it so far, especially this baby chick project.
“We have a lot of fun here,” Mourao said.