Tavan's science unit

Paul Kaveinga and Calli Jeffrey with the incubator.

For over a decade, kindergarten students at Tavan Elementary School have had an opportunity to answer the age-old question: Which comes first – the chicken or the egg? During their science unit on farm animals, kindergartners watch the hatching process of fertilized chicken eggs, thanks to Tolmachoff Farms in Glendale.

“The owner of Tolmachoff Farms invites our curious young students out for field trips every year to see their chickens, and while there, they also get to pick produce,” Support Coordinator Ellen Young said. “Tolmachoff has been wonderful to us, and we have a terrific partnership with them.”

The kindergartners bring fertilized eggs back to Tavan, where they’re placed inside an incubator at the school and remain for up to 21 days before hatching.

“Seeing them hatch is the most wonderful sight,” Young said. “Last year, the students had to watch online, so it’s so nice to have them back on campus this year to watch them in person.”

While the eggs will often hatch at night, Young said there had been many daytime hatchings where the kids are mesmerized by the sight of the baby chicks pecking their way out of their shells. Young said that the children love this fun moment in time and described the lifecycle as “one of the coolest things to see.”

The new chicks are then placed into Tavan’s temporary coop, which staff can move around the kindergarten yard. Because the enclosure is tiny, it cannot house full-fledged chickens inside it, Young said.

When the chicks reach a specific size, which usually takes about a month, they are returned to Tolmachoff Farms, where they continue to develop into chickens.

“Our long-term goal is to have the necessary means to raise the chicks into full egg-producing adult chickens,” Young said. She’s hoping that maybe a local Boy Scout troop will help build them a bigger chicken coop.

Having a larger permanent coop in place will allow them to then receive fresh eggs.

“While we don’t think that we would be able to sell these eggs because we’re a school, we would love to develop a nice, working partnership with a neighborhood co-op, which will allow our community to also benefit from our bounty,” Young said.

So, while the chicken-egg question remains unanswered, Tavan students will continue to learn and may find an answer yet!