WEST ORANGE, NJ - Liberty Middle School is a pretty "egg-citing" place this month as the Science Department's "Quail in the Classroom" project delivered a big surprise on May 1.
In early April the school was provided with 120 quail eggs to incubate and the first egg hatched on May 1. The baby quail was born during the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge state testing (NJ ASK), and staff and students named it "Nejaska". Nejaska led the way as sixty more quail eggs hatched to the delight of the staff and students.
“This experience has been so rewarding for not only our students, but for our staff as well,” said Dianne Cardinali, a seventh grade science teacher at the school and the coordinator for this program.
“It is a chance for people to observe birth through development, and also to understand the importance for restoring an important habitat of the Bobwhite quail. It is something that our students will never forget.”
Most people are not aware at all aware of this fascinating species of bird and its devastating loss of habitat. The “Quail in the Classroom” program provides interactive opportunities for students to learn about the habitat requirements, the life cycle of the Bobwhite, and the need to manage and enhance the habitat for this remarkable and elusive bird.
Upon hatching, the birds were moved to a brooder cage, where they will live and grow until the end of the school year. In June, all of the birds will be moved to another location outside the school, where they will learn to fly and survive in the wild. In September, all of the quail will be released.
The program has encompassed different content areas, including ELA, Math, and Art. Students have written poems, graphed growth data, and created images of quail in different mediums. “Having the quail at the school is a cross-curricular approach that is not only fun and motivating for the students, but for the teachers as well,” Principal Robert Klemt said.
“Teachers of all content areas, who do not normally get a chance to work together on a daily basis, have had the opportunity to collaborate with each other in creating exciting lessons that will stimulate the minds of all of our students.”
Each student has a Quail Journal in which they are documenting their observations through all the stages of growth and development, and their work is being displayed in the hallways for everyone to admire. The Science Department even threw a “Quail Shower” for the staff to welcome the new additions to the Liberty family.
Partners for this activity include the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Environmental Projects (NJ Quail Project) and the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. The majority of funding has been provided by New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Conservation Foundation partners and individual donors. For more information, visit www.quailintheclassroom.org.