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It’s Time To Hatch Some Chicken Eggs…..4-H Embryology is Fun For All

 Embryology is defined as science that deals with the study and development of an embryo.  In this project, participants will learn how life develops by observing chicken eggs that you will set in your incubator.  The 4-H club leader(s) as well as the youth will be responsible for the daily care of the incubator and eggs throughout the process.


Children have a natural sense of curiosity about living things in the world around them. Building on this curiosity, students can develop an understanding of biology concepts through direct experience with living things, their life cycles and their habitats.  4-H has always promoted “hands on” activities through its many project areas, most specifically embryology.  This project allows its participants to learn by listening, observing, experimenting and applying their knowledge to real-world situations.


How Do You Get Started? If I attempted to list all the steps involved in the 4-H Embryology Project I would eventually run out of room in this posting. The recommended step to take in getting this project off the ground is to contact and partner with your 4-H extension agent.  They may be able to help you get started by securing an incubator, identifying a reliable source for fertile eggs, and provide additional resources in the form of “project and/or record books” for the youth participating in the project.  The agent will also be able assist with planning your calendar, establishing a location for the hatched chicks and to troubleshoot just in case problems arise throughout the project. There are many different types of incubators that can be used to hatch eggs but working with your 4-H professional to make sure you have the right one for your project is essential to having a successful hatch.


What If I’ve Done This Project Before? If you are already familiar with how to set up your embryology project it is still recommended to inform your 4-H extension agent so they can keep an accurate record of the number of youth engaged in the embryology project while at the same time provide the support and additional assistance that may be needed.


So What’s Next? Decide along with your club members where the incubator will be kept, follow your 4-H Embryology Project Book Curriculum and watch in amazement as the youth in your club develop their curiosity, increase the communication with each other,  and deepen their understanding of science, engineering and technology while taking a journey through an unforgettable experience.

4-H Agent Marcus Boston completing 4-H Embryology at daughter's kindergarten class

4-H Agent Marcus Boston completing 4-H Embryology with kindergarten class

The Fun of Chocolate

emma m&msWith the passing of Valentine’s Day I hope that you have been able to enjoy a taste of chocolate. You have probably heard by now that chocolate is good for you. Do you believe it? This is a fact that is backed by research. Still most of us can’t help but be concerned about how something so sweet might adversely impact our health. Chocolate lovers, even those at risk for developing type II diabetes or hypertension, many now have a legitimate reason to indulge in this culinary pleasure.

A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested the effects of dark and while chocolate on healthy adults to determine whether either type played a role in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. They concluded that dark chocolate can indeed help reduce blood pressure and insulin resistance. White chocolate did not provide these health benefits. The effects of dark chocolate are due to flavanols, antioxidant compounds also found in many fruits and vegetables that have been shown to lower risk of heart disease. Flavonols make dark chocolate in moderation a great solution to satisfy your sweet tooth!

Keep in mind that although dark chocolate has health benefits, most chocolate bars are high in saturated fat, so moderation is key. Also, eating dark chocolate cannot substitute for everyday healthy food choices. Nor can chocolate replace regular exercise or medications that have been prescribed by your physician. Still, it’s nice to know you can indulge in your chocolate cravings every so often without feeling guilty about it.

The Project, Land and People, Resources for Learning that is available through the Florida Ag in the Classroom program has a great lesson, Loco for Cocoa that gives the background of chocolate as well as various activities for youth in grades 6-12.

Acres of Adventures Afterschool Curriculum produced by National 4-H has a M&M Mystery Challenge as well as the following link has M&M Math Worksheets:

Ag in the Classroom, Illinois Farm Bureau has an educational brochure, Candy – Culture and Creativity that I found on the National 4H website under the Acres of Adventures page.

The website Science Kids at has a video showing the Science of Chocolate. At the top of the page there is a link to experiments, one of which is Melting Chocolate, which can be done with youth.

In researching activities centered around chocolate I found quite a few team building games that relate to chocolate.

Explore with your 4-H members all the yummy things about chocolate, I think you will find that you enjoy the topic as much as they will.

Source: Dark Chocolate Benefits by Sherri Gampel and Linda B. Bobroff, UF/IFAS document FAR8057.