A group of Copper Mill Elementary School sixth-graders are the proud guardians of four newly hatched ducklings.
On Feb. 4, students in math teacher Brandi Pellissier’s classroom found some abandoned eggs in a nest near the pond beside their school, and after watching the nest all day, physical education teachers never saw the mother, so Pellissier ventured out to check the eggs.
“They were cool to the touch, and we were concerned something had happened to the mother, so we decided to try to save the ducklings,” Pellissier said.
“We put a total of 12 eggs under a heat lamp until we could place them into an incubator later that night.”
The eggs remained in the incubator for the duration of their incubation period. Students examined the eggs with a special light called a candling light, allowing them to see inside the shell.
Pellissier said the eggs looked to be about four days into their incubation period when first discovered.
“We waited until Feb. 11, when we had hoped to see more development, which would mean we had gotten the eggs warmed quickly enough to save them,” Pellissier said. “Thankfully, we saw a lot more development at that time, including blood veins starting to develop.”
She said her students were so excited, they began making predictions about what day the ducklings would hatch, how many would hatch and whether they’d be male or female.
“It became a game to see how many other traits as we could come up with,” Pellissier said. “They are very loved over here.”
Finally, on the March 1 due date, the tiny ducklings began chipping away at their shells.
Sadly, eggs don’t do as well in an incubator as they do with their natural mother, and some of the ducklings didn’t make it, the teacher said.
“We did, however, manage to hatch four adorable baby ducklings — three females and one male — that we named after the four core subject areas in school — Einstein (math), Sally Ride (science), Cleopatra (social studies) and Hermione (English-language arts).”
Pellissier’s students came up with name choices, and the entire school voted March 4.
To add to the excitement of the lucky ducklings on campus, the mother duck has returned and is presently sitting on a new nest of 15 eggs.
“We brought the babies out to the pond and she acknowledged them, has been around them but won’t take them just yet. I believe it’s because she’s still sitting on the other nest,” Pellissier said. “Our plan is to wait until the new eggs hatch and then add our ducklings into the mix, so she’ll have all of her babies with her.”