Idea hatched: Embryology unit goes online

For many students at Lincoln Public Schools, the third-grade embryology unit is a highlight of their elementary years - maybe even a memory they cherish through high school graduation.

Schools complete the unit at different times throughout the year, so COVID-19 and the subsequent shift to remote learning raised the possibility that third-graders from 13 schools would not experience the unit and its culmination: baby chicks emerging from their eggs. 

Ashley Lammers couldn’t bear the thought.

“I would have been very disappointed because this is one of my favorite things to teach,” said Lammers, from Beattie Elementary School. “This is one of the most engaging things we do in third grade.”

So Lammers collaborated with James Blake, the LPS K-12 science curriculum specialist, to trim the unit from 15 lessons to three and convert it into an online experience. They worked with Calvin DeVries from Nebraska Extension, who usually visits classrooms and speaks to students during the unit. He agreed to create short videos of his presentations that students could watch online. He also set up a live “Egg Cam” pointed on eggs located at the extension office so students could check on them, just like they would in their classrooms.

Students began the unit this week and hatching is scheduled for April 28-29. Each week there is an “essential question” posed to the students. For this week it’s,“What is one question that I want to figure out as I follow along with the egg hatch in the next three weeks?” Next week’s question: “What is one thing I am wondering about today? What did I figure out about my question last week?” And the final week’s question: “What is a question I could investigate about an egg growing into a chick?”

Lammers and Blake acknowledge the online embryology unit is not the same as the usual hands-on experience - but students are still learning important science and making lasting memories.

“The reason we exist is for our students’ curiosity and developing a wonder of nature,” Blake said, “and we're not going to let them down.” 

Watch the video below to learn more about the embryology unit and what students will be learning the first week. Look for similar videos the next two weeks.

Published: April 14, 2020, Updated: April 14, 2020

Here's what hundreds of LPS third-graders look forward to seeing in two weeks.