sealPurdue News

March 1999

Purdue hatches popular plans to egg on young scientists

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- For many kids, the first taste of farming may come in the classroom. A 4-H Classroom Chicken Embryology program in Lake County that started as a pilot project in two school corporations a decade ago is now in every school corporation in that county -- public and private -- and reaches about 10,000 students each year.

"It took off like wildfire," says Corinne Powell, a Lake County youth educator in the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, who offers the program twice a year and trains teachers. "We're mainly an urban county, so many of our students don't have an opportunity to see live farm animals.

"It is our most popular 4-H classroom program, and it has opened doors for other 4-H programs in the schools." Teachers use the project to teach everything from life sciences to math, from reading to group cooperation.

For Mickey Latour, Purdue poultry specialist, visits to the classroom and thank-you letters from students are a big bonus. When Latour came to Purdue as Extension poultry specialist, his first thought was, "What can I do to serve the poultry production efforts in Indiana?"

One strategy was to formalize the loaning of incubators to schools into a curriculum-based program, which he christened "Incubators in the Classroom." During 1997-98 school year, incubators were placed in about 75 schools.

The incubators are delivered to classrooms for the last three days of the eggs' incubation. A story-line coloring book, teacher lesson plan and CD-ROM complete the curriculum.

Incubators in the Classroom has helped unite poultry promotion efforts throughout the state. The Indiana Turkey Marketing Council and the Indiana State Poultry Association have helped fund incubators (now up to 18), as well as curriculum materials and the CD-ROM, which Latour developed.

The first of its kind, the CD-ROM captures what happens inside the egg -- including a video clip of the embryo's beating heart -- before it hatches.

Latour's Web site is called The Chick Zone.

CONTACTS: Powell, (219) 755-3240; Latour, (765) 494-8011; e-mail,

Compiled by Chris Sigurdson, (765) 494-8415; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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