Skip to main content

Logo for N.C. Cooperative Extension N.C. Cooperative Extension Homepage

4-H Embryology in the Classroom

en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲
quail chickens

Quail Chicks – courtesy of Henderson County Center

Gaston County Embryology Program

The 4-H Embryology Program is a hands-on science project that aligns with the second grade standard course of study for North Carolina. The program goal is to teach the stages of quail development and growth from early fertilization through hatching. There is no cost to participate in the program, but training is required and supplies limited. Please note:  Due to limited number of supplies, only Gaston County schools are eligible to participate.

For more information contact Gaston Co. 4-H Youth Development Agent:  Christie German Gaston, or 704.922.2126. 

Fall 2023 Dates to Remember

  • Teacher training and pick up incubators: September 20th
  • Pick up fertilized eggs: September 20th
  • Set eggs in incubator: afternoon of September 22nd
  • Return hatched chicks to the Cooperative Extension Office:  October 16th-19th (9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

The 4-H Embryology Program is designed to provide educators with background information and exciting experiential activities dealing with life science for use in the classroom. Each activity is designed to be grade-level appropriate and has been correlated to the U.S. National Science Education Standards.

Children have a natural sense of curiosity about living things in the world around them. Building on this curiosity, students can develop an understanding of biology concepts through direct experience with living things, their life cycles, and their habitats. Many believe that students learn best through their experiences and interactions with the world. They learn by listening, observing, experimenting, and applying their knowledge to real-world situations. Each activity within this curriculum follows these steps in the experiential learning model.

Embryology programs should be conducted in collaboration with North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and 4-H programs.

Educator Resources

If you have any other question about the embryology project, contact Christie German, Gaston County 4-H Youth Development Agent:  704.922.2126 or email:

What is the 4-H Embryology Project? 

Why does Gaston County use quail eggs instead of chicken eggs?

Extension partners with local farmers who have agreed to take quail chicks upon hatching.

How and where do I set up the incubator? 

setting up incubator

Setting up incubator (Source: Henderson Co. Center)

Watch the video: Incubators (Video)

  1. Unpack the incubator box and save the box. Incubators will be repacked in this box. Store the box in a safe place – incubators must be returned in this box.
  2. Store the box in a safe place – incubators must be returned in this box.
  3. Select a flat, stable surface for the placement of incubator that has access to a dedicated electrical outlet and no one else will use during the project duration.
  4. Avoid drafts, close contact with heating or cooling sources, and direct sunlight.
  5. Place the plastic liner with troughs for water inside the bottom of the incubator.
  6. Refer to respective laminated incubator model handout to determine which troughs to fill with water.
  7. Add the plastic grid on top of the water trough plastic liner and close the incubator.
  8. Make sure the little red plug is plugged in the top of the incubator.
  9. Plug the charger into the top of the incubator and into the wall.
  10. Make sure the incubator comes up to and maintains a temperature of 100 degrees.
  11. Check the temperature readings frequently.
  12. Place an “X” on one side of each egg and an “O” on the other side.
  13. Place eggs in incubator.
  14. Your eggs are set and this will be day 0 of your incubation. Incubation time for quail is 23 days.

What should I do to prepare for eggs to hatch?

  • Turn eggs 2-3X daily
  • Record daily temperatures (and humidity if you have incubator model 1588)
  • Candle eggs every few days to observe embryo development
  • Day 21  – STOP turning eggs
  • Remove red plug (tape to incubator for safe keeping)
  • Day 21 – Prep brooder box

What is a brooder box and what is it used for?

brooder box with chicks

Brooder Box (image source: Cabarrus County Center)

A brooder box is a type of heated enclosure used to rear baby birds. The use of a cardboard box with pine shavings works great as a basic brooder box.

Brooder box requirements:

  • Heat source
  • Feed (starter crumbles)
  • Water – use a mason jar lid and fill with marbles and then water

Additional Embryology Resources