Quechee, VT – Children learn better when they engage with their surroundings and communities through an educational concept known as place-based education. With the adoption of place-based education, the world outside the school is just as much a part of the classroom as the desks and chalkboards we may picture when we think of school. This fall, the “classroom” for many Vermont and New Hampshire children will be in the middle of the woods. A $52,000 grant from Boston-based Jane’s Trust is allowing the Vermont Institute of Natural Science to build an outdoor classroom at its Quechee, VT Nature Center, and to provide field trips for hundreds of local schoolchildren from Vermont and New Hampshire.
The outdoor classroom will be an open space in the woods of VINS, with a roof and storage cubbies, where up to 40 visitors can hold class in the midst of the natural environment, with all of its sights, smells and sounds. During all four seasons, as wind moves through and sunlight shines among the trees, students will make connections between the concepts they are learning and what these experiences mean in real measurements. VINS maintains quality programming by integrating current biological and environmental sciences into its curriculum for field trips, programs and camps. Local teachers have noted the positive difference that place-based educational approaches have made in engaging students with otherwise-abstract concepts. Now, with the help of Jane’s Trust, teachers in Vermont and New Hampshire can utilize the VINS outdoor classroom to bring school right into the forest.
The outdoor classroom will be available for use this fall. Teachers, homeschool families and parents interested in learning more may contact Emily Johnson, Science Outreach Coordinator.
VINS also invites visitors to explore the Forest Exhibit, which captures the sights, sounds and smells of a natural forest. Discover common trees in our area and how to identify them. Investigate the amazing diversity of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects that call the forest home. Also explore our new Outdoor Nature Playscape, a natural place for kids with elements for creative play and fun for all ages.