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Environmental learning

Farm to School at Berlin Elementary

in Environmental learning/wellness by

The Farm to School group honored Cindy Gauthier in the garden on June 7 by planting two grapevines and hanging a plaque on the newly built trellis (by Dave Wilcox). She was acknowledged for years of initiating amazing place-based learning opportunities for Berlin students, related to health and wellness (e.g., garden, orchard, kitchen cart, Junior Iron Chef, gleaning, etc.)

Harvesting Worm Casting
The Compost Club harvested the worm castings from EVERYclassroom’s vermi-composters. The castings are a rich fertilizer that FREE and made by the kids and the worms! Each classroom uses the castings when they plant their raised bed in the school garden. We will reap the benefits during the fall harvest!

Thank you for your generous seedling donations for classroom garden planting:

  • Four Springs Farm, So Royalton – Jinny Hardy Cleland (Eli & Simon’s grandma)
  • Dog River Farm, Berlin – George Gross (Ainsley & Hunter’s dad)
  • Cate Farm, Plainfield – Richard Wizwall

World Peace Game Comes to East Montpelier

in Environmental learning by

Washington Central Supervisory Union will be hosting a World Peace Game master class this summer. The World Peace Game (WPG) is a simulation. Students work together to solve multiple crises that the world is facing. Students play the game under the facilitation of master teacher and creator, John Hunter. The game is exciting, challenging, and a ton of fun!

The World Peace Game Foundation is dedicated to teaching children the work of peace. Guided by the life work of educator John Hunter, the Foundation uses the World Peace Game to foster the concept of peace not as a utopian dream but as an attainable goal to strive for, and to stimulate the creative development of educational tools. It supports development of collaboration and communication skills for resolving and transforming conflicts, and the development of the skills of compromise, all while accommodating different perspectives and interests.

The World Peace Game master class will take place during the week of July 23—27 at East Montpelier Elementary School. During a World Peace game master class, students spend the morning playing the World Peace Game while teachers observe the students and Mr. Hunter. Then, in the afternoon, teachers learn more about how to facilitate the game itself.

WCSU needs to recruit 25—35 students to play the game. Students will have completed fifth, sixth grade or seventh grade and need to fully commit to attending the game on July 23—27 from 8:15 a.m.—12:00 p.m. Families will be responsible for transportation to and from East Montpelier Elementary School.

Now is the time to begin the registration process. To sign up, please complete this brief form as the first step. Space is limited to 35 students and slots will be offered on a first come, first served basis.

To learn more about the game, visit, watch an 8-minute movie trailer about the film World Peace Game and Other Fourth Grade Achievements, or watch John Hunter’s TED Talk about the World Peace Game. Also, please feel free to contact Jen Miller-Arsenault, WCSU Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment at 229-0553 if you have any questions.

Farm to School at Berlin

in Environmental learning by

Preschool bean harvest and 3/4 grade potato harvest. Students are currently focusing on garden harvesting, food preparation and tasting ripe, nutritious food grown in the Anne Burke Community Garden.

Berlin students celebrate International Compost Awareness Week

in Environmental learning/Student Activism by

On May 16, Berlin Elementary School students led a tour for Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Julie Moore of the school’s classroom, cafeteria, and outdoor composting system, which has turned more than 60 tons of food scraps into soil products since 2009. Students showed how their composting efforts contribute to healthy soils in recognition of International Compost Awareness Week.

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The Verizon Challenge

in Environmental learning by

By Jack Thompson, Logan Wood, and Henry Kasulka

Four years ago, Henry’s dad, Shawn Kasulka, started a FIRST LEGO League team. Henry Kasulka, Logan Wood and I (Jack Thompson) all joined. Ruby Singer and Jacob McCoy also joined, along with some other kids. For each year of FLL, you must come up with an innovative solution to a real-world problem. In our third year, we designed an app to try and reduce trash by telling people where to take recyclable items that they can’t just put in the recycling bin. However, we didn’t have the resources to actually make the app we designed. Then, this year, we learned about the Verizon challenge, and how it would give us the chance to make it all real.

East Montpelier students Henry Kasulka (Grade 6), Ruby Singer (Grade 8), Jacob McCoy (Grade 8), Logan Wood, (Grade 6), and Jack Thompson (Grade 6), who were recently recognized for their innovation and creativity!

We participated in a challenge, sponsored by Verizon. 1,800 groups in Vermont, including ours, would design an app and make a short video that would be inspected by Verizon. Whoever made the best video and app design would move on the next challenge: the regional challenge. All of the winning apps in the region (ours being New England) would be compared, and the best would be selected to move on to the national challenge, and then the winner of that would be given the resources to make the app. Unfortunately we did not make it past the regional competition. But there is still another chance! One additional app idea will also be a winner. People can vote for the app design they like best, and the one with the most votes will be the fan favorite winner. But you’re probably wondering about the details of our app.

For the Verizon App Challenge, we submitted our idea called Reuse-It. It is an idea for an app that would allow you to search up an item or any piece of junk you didn’t need. The app would tell you where to take it and what you can do with it. If you turned on your location, it would calculate the closest place you can drop off that item. We were also thinking of some cool additional features, like the “Junk Market:” a place where you could sell your junk that you had no more use for. Keep Reading

ECO – Learning Through Experience

in Environmental learning by

By Sarah Kinter

On a Tuesday afternoon in mid-January I visited East Montpelier Elementary School’s Kindergarten/First Grade teacher Jillian Zeilenga and her class for an “Educating Children Outdoors” [ECO] afternoon. Our learning theme was “Force of Motion,” a welcome antidote to  the raw cold of that afternoon.

East Montpelier Elementary kindergartners experiment with ropes and pulleys during their Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) class.

Mrs. Zeilenga’s and Mrs. Gariboldi’s students got all bundled up, prepared for outdoor learning, having participated in ECO one to two afternoons a week since September. EMES is blessed with beautiful woods behind the school which have long lent themselves to outdoor play and education. Introduced by Mrs. Zeilenga five years ago after seeing it piloted at Union Elementary School, ECO is based on site at EMES and co-taught by K-2 EMES teachers and ECO staff from the North Branch Nature Center.

ECO is the latest in a long tradition of environmental education programs offered at EMES. Four Winds, previously called Environmental Learning for the Future (ELF), was taught for many years at EMES and is currently offered at Calais, Doty, and Rumney Elementary Schools. VINS’ Environmental Citizenship Program and Angela Gibbons of Earth Walk are also part of this rich tradition.

ECO coordinator Angie Barger works with teachers to complement their own curricula with ECO’s standards-based curriculum. Teachers also draw from Four Winds. The core ECO routines form “the walls of the outdoor classroom. ECO makes familiar the child’s local ecosystem through their senses. They know what is beyond the wooded boundaries of the playground and how the seasons change because they learn and play in these woods every week” says Barger. Karen Liebermann, a parent volunteer, has noticed that the current 5th and 6th grade students that began ECO in Kindergarten and are now practicing Nature Journaling are “noticeably more comfortable and curious in the woods.” The program is also praised by fellow teachers Lisa Gariboldi and Beth Parker for fostering an “awareness of and appreciation for our natural world…while incorporating teamwork and community building.” Keep Reading

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