Embryology Project Kits

The Embryology Project Kits provide an experiential learning opportunity for youth in Cumberland County by providing materials needed to successfully hatch chicks. Groups and youth develop a personal connection to the food system through hands-on learning. Youth learn life skills such as disease prevention, problem-solving, keeping records, planning, and organizing. They can study the process of incubation, learn about the cycle of life, care for healthy and possibly unhealthy chicks, and work as a team to ensure the success of their project.

Register Online: Visit the Embryology Kits page

For more information or if you have any questions, call or email Sara Conant at 207.781.6099, sara.conant@maine.edu.

Guidelines for Participation

  • Possible participants are schools, 4-H clubs, 4-H leaders, 4-H members, and daycares.
  • Cost for kit rental is $10 to help cover the cost of curriculum and equipment maintenance. This helps to ensure the continuation of the project for years to come.
  • People interested in participating are required to also put down a $50 deposit (in the form of check), which will be returned when equipment is returned undamaged. If equipment is damaged or not returned, the deposit money will be put back into the project and used to purchase new equipment.
  • It is recommended that general release forms be signed for any photographs taken that could be in public view. Help to share your story, please share your pictures (and release forms) with us when you return the incubator kits.
  • Participants will need to provide their own fertile eggs and supplies to support chicks after hatching including bedding, food, and a brooder box, etc.

Incubator Kit includes:

  • Styrofoam Incubator with viewing window
  • Thermometer
  • Hygrometer
  • Heat lamp with bulb
  • Food/watering dish
  • Disinfectant Solution (pre-mixed bleach/water solution) to clean materials before returning
  • 4-H Cooperative Extension Curriculum such as Embryology in the Classroom; Experiments in Poultry Science and/or From Egg to Chick; A 4-H Manual of Embryology and Incubation; and other University of Maine Cooperative Extension publications
  • Community Partners including local egg producers and a list of sources to get fertile eggs
  • Poster display which shows development stages and provides information on embryology
  • Two automatic egg turners may be available upon request but are not standard in Incubator Kits

Planning to Participate?

There are a limited number of incubator kits available from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension office in Cumberland County. Participants will need to reserve their incubator ahead of time with the office staff. Project participants will need to plan ahead in order to consider many factors that go into hatching chicks. Things to consider before the start of the project might include:

  • Typical incubation for chickens is 21 days and eggs require daily care.
  • Will someone be available for 21 consecutive days and, if not, how will that affect the outcome of the project?
  • Where will the eggs come from and where will the chicks go once they hatch?
  • Is the season or weather a factor?
  • How might youth react if there is not a good hatch rate or if chicks are not healthy when they hatch?
  • Where do eggs come from and why can’t you hatch eggs purchased at a typical grocery store?
  • What is the daily maintenance for eggs and for chicks?
  • What signs do you look for to determine the overall health and growth of egg and chick?

Impact and Expected Outcomes:

  • Possibility for hundreds of youth to be exposed to agriculture in the classroom or group setting with hands-on learning project
  • Self-sustaining project
  • Experiential learning opportunity for youth
  • Appreciation for the time, energy and commitment from anyone who raises livestock
  • Target Life Skills such as disease prevention, problem-solving, keeping records, planning and organizing
  • Youth will learn about embryology and incubation
  • Youth will have fun learning by doing

Additional Resources: