Embryology School Enrichment Unit

York County Extension 2022

What is Embryology?

Embryology is the study of developing embryos and the hatching of avian eggs. In this unit, we take a scientific look at the overall process as it relates to chickens, talk through development, focus on the poultry industry, and compare chickens to other avian species. The highlight of the project is the opportunity for youth to experience live chick hatching and interaction with the animals post-hatch.

Why should a classroom participate in this project?

Embryology is a unique opportunity for a hands-on experience taught by Extension Professionals. Our Extension office provides classrooms with all the materials needed for the project, instructs classroom teachers on best practices for the procedures, provides 24/7 support throughout the unit, and facilitates the departure of the chicks from the classroom. This comes with a special partnership from a local producer who supplies classrooms with a special, heritage breed bird (Icelandic Chickens), along with a grant from Corteva Agriscience to help fund the project.

Science Standards

Another key interest is that the unit coincides with Science Standard SC.3.9 Inheritance and Variation; Life Cycles and Traits.

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Dates of Visits

First Visit will happen on a Monday. This is when Extension will come into the classroom, talk through set up with youth/teachers, begin incubator warm-up, and discuss embryology of the eggs and specialty breed. Teachers will then place eggs in the incubator with youth on the following day after a 24-hour warm-up period. This visit will take approximately an hour.

Second Visit will happen on the following Friday at approximately 10 days of incubation. During this visit, classrooms will candle eggs checking for the viability of hatch. Youth will be able to see the growing embryo inside the egg and any yolker eggs (eggs that do not have a growing embryo) will be removed at that time. This visit will take approximately 45 minutes.

Third Visit will happen the following Friday at approximately 18 days of incubation. Youth will discuss a little about the poultry industry, along with participating in a game guessing which bird laid which egg. During this class favorite, Extension brings in 9 different eggshells for youth to guess which bird laid them. This allows for some youth comparison and intrigue. We will also unplug the egg rotator prior to the hatch. This visit will take approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Fourth Visit will happen on the 4th Friday of the program. This visit includes a program wrap-up, evaluation, and removal of all chicks/supplies from the classroom. Birds will be returned to the farm where they will grow up and become laying hens/production birds themselves. This visit will last approximately 45 minutes.

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Dates for Programming

February 28th to March 25th

March 7th to April 1st

March 14th to April 8th

March 21 to April 14th (Hatch prior to Easter Break)

April 4th to April 29th

April 11th to May 6th

There are 5 sets of incubators that can be used throughout the county. Make sure to register your classroom early to ensure you get optimal dates for your classroom. Contact will be made by the Extension Office to confirm your programming and to set up classroom visits.


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Chicken Embryo Development

Sign up to participate today!

Please feel free to contact us!

Tanya Crawford - Extension Educator: tanya.crawford@unl.edu

Amanda Hackenkamp - Extension Assistant: amanda.hackenkamp@unl.edu