Science Symposium: Grades 4 - 8

Now accepting new schools to our waitlist for 2024/2025


Science Symposium

Grades 4 - 8


The VINS Science Symposium provides opportunities for students to complete scientific research, design solutions to solve a local problem, and present their findings at a regional symposium.


VINS Science Educators provide teachers with resources and ongoing support needed to design and implement a project-based learning unit aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards.


The Science Symposium creates a deeper understanding and excitement for science, engineering, and the environment through a project and place-based community approach to education.

Program Package

Through guided, collaborative teaching, the Science Symposium gets students engaged in authentic, real-world science projects.

VINS Educators work with each class to identify a problem in their community, facilitate scientific research and data collection, provide guidance on developing solutions, and prepare them for presenting their findings at the Science Symposium event on the VINS campus in May.

This year’s themes include Life and the Geosphere, Life and the Hydrosphere, Life and the Atmosphere, and Community Problem Solvers.

Participation in the Science Symposium includes:

Two lessons taught by a VINS Educator focusing on the research theme.

Registration for the Symposium and admission to the VINS Nature Center for participating classes and school staff on the day of the event. Students’ families are eligible for discounted admission.

On-going support and science instruction expertise from a VINS Educator who has a Master’s in Education and is a certified teacher.

Program Fee: $600 (includes a teacher meeting, 2 lessons, and admission to the Symposium), plus $1.25 per mile to cover travel expenses and the educator’s time.  Scholarships are available.  Please email Hannah, Senior Director of Education, if you need financial assistance or fill out the “Request More Information” interest from below.

2024 Science Symposium Event at the VINS Nature Center

Monday, May 6, 2024:

Equitable Climate Action Project

Project themes: Participating ECAP Teacher projects addressing climate action projects in local communities

Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux
Vermont State Climatologist
University of Vermont

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Life and the Hydrosphere

Project themes: Trout in the Classroom, Water Quality and River/Stream Ecosystem Health

Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Katharine Donahue
Anthropologist, Professor Emerita at Plymouth State University

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Life and the Atmosphere/Life and the Lithosphere

Project Themes: Weather Data Collection, Bird Migration and Bird Monitoring, Nature Trail Maintenance, Composting

Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Ashley Lang
Ecosystem Ecologist

I am looking forward to learning from students about their own experiences of protecting life in the Hydrosphere. Here in the Upper Valley, as elsewhere, we are profoundly affected by water. I spend a lot of time on a trail through the wetlands behind my house. As the seasons change, every day there is something different to notice. Beavers, muskrats, birds, bushes, trees, frogs, insects all rely on those wetlands, as do we humans.

Dr. Katharine Donahue

Anthropologist, Professor Emerita at Plymouth State University

Community Problem Solvers

  • Keynote: Randy Richardson. Development Director at Upper Valley Trail Alliance.
  • Project theme: maintaining trails around the school.

Climate and Energy/Energy in the Ecosystem

  • Keynote: Lael Will, Fisheries biologist at VT Fish and Wildlife.
    Keynote: Kim Quirk, Branch manager at Revision Energy
  • Project theme: learning about hydro energy, particularly as it relates to fish populations.

Food Systems

  • Keynote: Liz Kenton. 4-H Youth Agriculture Project coordinator, UVM Extension College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, FIRST Technical Challenge co-partner, UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences.
  • Project theme: Waste audits at schools, particularly focusing on food waste.

Habitat Protectors

Keynote: Josh Halman, Ph.D. Forest Manager
Keynote: Lael Will, Fisheries biologist
Project theme: School trail maintenance

Community Problem Solvers

Keynote: Jens Hawkins-Hilke, Conservation Planning Biologist
Project theme: Keeping a healthy sugarbush for maple sugaring

Habitat Protectors

Keynote: The Hartford Salamander Team, Ben Fletcher and Nathan Thoele

Forest Explorers

Keynote: Len Reitsma, Professor of Ecology at Plymouth State University and an Avian Ecologist

Habitat Protectors

Keynote: Luke Groff, Wildlife Biologist

Environmental Action and Crime

Keynote: Ginger Nickerson, Vermont’s Urban & Community Forestry Program and Pest Education Coordinator, and Judy Rosovsky, Vermont’s State Entomologist and Plant Regulatory Official

Community Problem Solvers

Keynote: Walter Opuszynski. Forest Recreation Specialist, Vermont’s State Lands

Action in the Community

Keynote: Robin Tindall, Engineer and the Environmental Stewardship Manager at Hypertherm


Keynote: Heather Pembrook, VT Department of Environmental Organization, freshwater aquatic biologist supervising the State of Vermont Biomonitoring Program


Keynote: Len Reitsma, PhD. Professor of Zoology, Plymouth State University

Energy & Engineering

Keynote: Robin Tindall, Hypertherm. Engineer and Environmental Stewardship Manager at Hypertherm

Authentic, Real-World Science Projects

Each VINS Science Educator has a Master of Education degree, is a Highly Qualified Teacher, and holds a teaching license in Vermont and New Hampshire.