ROCKINGHAM — Leath Memorial Library received an incubator full of fertilized eggs Wednesday afternoon, and librarian Deborah Knight — who’ll perform mama hen duties till the eggs hatch — already worried about separation anxiety.
“I’ll probably cry when she takes my chickens away” in a few weeks, Knight said with a mock pout, only moments after N.C. Cooperative Extension agent Alyson Hoffman had delivered and stocked the incubator to inaugurate the library’s nascent STEM program.
For three years, Hoffman has delivered incubators to — and picked up fuzzy chicks from — second-grade classrooms throughout the county. When the library recently received a Pee Dee (Electric) Care to Share grant, Knight hatched the idea of having an incubator in the library, too.
Second-graders received their incubators Monday. Their chicks likely will peck their way to newborn freedom a couple of days before the library chicks — around March 20. Nineteen days is the norm; until then, the eggs need to be turned and the incubator heat kept steady at 100 degrees.
When they have hatched and the birth goop in their fuzz has dried, the chicks will be moved to an open brooder box, with access to food and water. Their stay there will be brief.
“(People) just don’t understand that in a couple days, (the cute little chicks) are going to start flying,” Hoffman said.
Peeping in a library? Fine. Flying? Not so much.
Knight and Hoffman like the idea that children will learn about science at the library and not just in school. And it’s a good thing for the siblings of second-graders tantalized by stories of turning eggs, candling them and watching them hatch in the classroom.
On Wednesday, Knight scheduled two story time days for candling — displaying the growing chicks inside their eggs by darkening the room and flashing a light through their shells: 10:30 a.m. March 7 and 10 a.m. March 8. The first group are “lap babies” ages 1 to 3 and the second, 4-year-olds to first-graders.
Knight also plans to broadcast the chicks’ progress live on Facebook, probably at mid-day every day.
She has a “chicken bible” in case she’s asked any precocious questions, and she has coloring sheets and crayons to hand out. Knight also will keep a log book and receive digital reminders from Hoffman throughout the process.
Knight started the science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities because “libraries are more than just books … and what better place for children to see” science come to life?
Pee Dee Electric’s Care to Share program encourages customers to “round up” their bills a few cents a month to support nonprofit organizations throughout the communities the cooperative serves.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]