SWANTON — It’s a truism amongst educators that all students learn differently. Yet schools have struggled with how to meet the diverse learning needs of students.


Missisquoi Valley Union is seeking to match the learning styles of 14 high school students with a program that combines math, science and physical education.


Much of the work is hands on, with students working alongside field biologists from Vermont Fish and Wildlife and using math skills to build things, rather than simply solving problems on paper.


Junior Cole Smith described the class as “doing it with my hands instead of my head.”


Asked if using his hands makes it easier to learn, Smith said, “definitely.”


Sophomore Alex Maskell described the Field Studies Program as “more active than most classes.”


This is the first year for the program, which is taught by science teacher Nathan Poore and special educator Jamie Ste Marie. Some of the students in the program were recommended by teachers or guidance counselors, said Poore, while others recommended themselves.


The program gives students a chance to learn by doing “as opposed to just seeing and pushing paper,” said Poore. “We go outside and find science where it happens.”



The students have worked with biologists from Vermont Fish and Wildlife on two projects involving the measurement of fish including learning to take scale samples, tell male from female salmon, tagging fish and weighing them.


“They get to work elbow to elbow with field biologists quite frequently,” said Poore. The students were to have worked with a bat specialist on Oct. 27 to place bat houses they built at the optimum locations considering such factors as sun exposure and distance from the ground. They’ll also be learning about white nose syndrome.


“It’s that hands on learning that the traditional classrooms can’t always provide,” said Ste Marie.


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