Place-based education:Vignettes(Part 3/5)

STAR School

As part of an independent science project, a student at STAR school, a charter school just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona studied seed corn. He compared traditional indigenous seeds with commercial seeds. He discovered that the heirloom seeds had better germination rates and contained more nutrients. He went on to win a regional science fair contest. As part of the daily academic curriculum, he and his fellow Navajo students continuously explore the region, and research traditional and experimental techniques for sustainable gardening.

Louisiana Voices: Middle School History Club Takes to the Streets

Oak Middle School

Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana

For middle school social studies teacher Greg English, weekends are for student trips into the heart of Louisiana. Once he became involved in Louisiana Voices, a professional development program designed to engage students in authentic experiences in their region and their heritage, he knew he could not be confined to the regular school day. His well-organized and well-attended field trips bring students into New Orleans and out to neighboring parishes, where they sample local foods and music, visit historic plantations, churches, and even haunted houses. Students interview elders, take field notes, create artwork related to their research, and share their work with others at

Belmont Barns

Mount Holly School

Blemong, VT

As part of the Vermont Reads program sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council, third and fourth graders, their parents, and other community members in Belmont, VT read "As Long As There Are Mountains" by Vermont author Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. Students met with local elders, toured historic barns and productive farms in the community, and met with state wildlife biologists to learn about local habitat. They also met with members of the Mount Holly Community Guild the Select Board, The Planning Commission, and The Barn Preservation Association to discuss the book. Students created educational posters showing how a barn is raised, a quilt representing different barn styles for display in the community, and posters with drawings and descriptions of plants referenced in the book.

High School Students Partner with Land Trust

Vermont Commons School

South Burlington, VT

Students in mixed-age (grades 7–12) service learning class at the Vermont Commons School are working with the South Burlington Land Trust on a project documenting changes to South Burlington.

Village Questing

Flood Brook School

Students in the 7th and 8th grade at Flood Brook School are working with the Peru, Landgrove, Londonderry, and Weston Historical Societies on a week-long history institute. During the institute, students will learn about the history of the different communities through hands-on research that is guided by both the classroom teachers and historical society members. By the end of the week, each student will create a village quest that other community members can follow to learn about the history of their town.

Tunbridge Students Create Community Documentary

Tunbridge Central School

Tunbridge, VT

Eighth graders at the Tunbridge Central School are working with the Tunbridge Historical Society on an oral history project in which they will interview and photograph elders in the community to document the history of Tunbridge. For the final project, students will produce a documentary video in which they will talk about the Tunbridge resident that they interviewed, show photographs of the individual, and utilize sound clips from the interview. This video will be shown to the community at a public celebration.

Students, Art, and Amphibians!

East Montpelier Elelmentary

East Montpelier, Vermont

A local nature center worked with art, science, music, and English teachers at an elementary school to develop an interdisciplinary unit on vernal pools and migrating amphibians. Students learned about vernal pools and the diversity of animals who live in them, with a particular focus on breeding amphibians. Students visited vernal pools, scooped for critters, and made murals of the habitat. They made posters of amphibians crossing a road that were used by the nature center staff to advertise a series of trainings for community members. Community members learned about amphibian migration and how to help the crittesr out during migration.

Danville: A Show of Hands


Danville, Vermont

A community celebration artist worked with the K-12 students to create community art. Students interviewed community members about the social history of their community. They created 800 clay "handprints" of their neighbors. The handprints were hung from an old maple tree on the village green, creating a local landmark and a visual chronicle of interconnectedness and change.

The Greening of Henniker Goes On

Henniker Community School

Henniker, NH

For a Leadership Grant project, students at Henniker Community School create an environmental learning center for the school and community. They had two main goals: to increase the Town of Henniker's recycling rate and to lower energy costs for the town and school buildings by reducing oil and electricity consumption. The center trains seventh- and eighth-grade students to be leaders for younger students.

Malden Recycles

Beebe Environmental and Health Science Magnet School

Malden, MA

Under a challenge from the Mayor of Malden, Massachusetts, a student leadership group is working on plans to implement a school-wide recycling program. The City of Malden presently has no citywide recycling program. The Mayor is looking to the students to create first a school-wide program that can then be used as a model for other schools and businesses. Students start by surveying the school to understand the waste sources, and will then create a plan for how the recycling will occur.

Bird Banding Internships

Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center

Purchase Knob, NC

High school and college interns help to run a bird-banding station in the Great Smokies National Park. At sunrise, students open nets and catch birds for six hours. They measure, identify, band, and release the birds unharmed in an effort to better understand the population dynamics of species using the high elevation habitats found at Purchase Knob.


Closing the Loop on Proctor's Food Cycle

Proctor Academy

Andover, NH

Proctor Academy is working to close the loop on their food production/food waste system by expanding a fledgling organic garden and composting food scraps and napkins from the school kitchen. The project provides fresh vegetables and reduces the school's wastes, and serves as an educational model for small scale, low-input sustainable agriculture. Students, teachers, kitchen staff, and the maintenance department are involved in various parts of the cycle.

Gesu Community Green

Gesu Catholic School

Detroit, MI

After the State of Michigan condemns the playground at Gesu School, the school, parish and neighborhood organization in Northwest Detroit collaborate to transform the asphalt schoolyard into an area of gardens, grass, and trees, complete with safe play structures, drinking fountains, benches, and a labyrinth for meditation.

Birds on the Move: Migration Studies

Pine Cobble School

Williamstown, MA

Fifth- and sixth-grade students learn to identify birds, map their school grounds, and landscape the schoolyard to encourage migrants to nest, rest, and feed on the school campus. Students study the cultures and economic situations in countries where neotropical migrant birds overwinter, and the reasons for habitat loss. They then communicate with a Guatemalan organization working to conserve bird habitat.


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