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Hatching a plan for learning

Mention ducks and the second-graders at Hall's Cross Roads Elementary School in Aberdeen can talk for hours.

The 17 pupils in Christine Baker's classroom have spent the past few months studying them. The children seem to know all there is to know about the little birds ---- from understanding the embryonic stages to differentiating between a male and female duck's feathers.

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Baker's pupils spent the past three months nursing duck eggs, eagerly waiting to see the ducklings emerge.

The second-graders read articles about how to take care of the eggs before Baker brought them to the classroom.

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While the ducklings grew, the children monitored the incubator to make sure the temperature remained at 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit. During the incubation period, the pupils also researched information on ducks and created two PowerPoint presentations, one of which focused on how an embryo changes inside an egg and another that taught ways to prepare for a duck's arrival.

After the eight ducklings hatched in mid-April, the children visited classrooms and gave 20-minute presentations explaining their PowerPoint slides.

The pupils agreed unanimously that the saddest part of their project occurred when they sent the ducks to a farm two weeks ago.

"It was sad to say bye to them," Zachary King said. "We saw them every day."

Although the pupils would have liked to spend more time with their ducks, they treasure their memories of the birds.

Bryana Riffey even enjoyed being on "scat detail," where she had to put on rubber gloves, follow the ducks everywhere and clean up their mess.

"They actually fought over who got to clean up," Baker said.

Hakeem Wilson likes to remember how "Mrs. Baker had a hard time getting the ducks out of the pond," which is outside the school's hallway and visible to anyone passing through.

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Baker recalls constantly kneeling over the pond.

"I would try to scoop them out, but they would always jump out of my hands and get back in the water," she said, laughing. "It was great entertainment for all the students and teachers walking to the cafeteria."


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