Neuroscience Professor Opens the World of Brain Science to GEMS 6th Graders

Target 1 – Student-Centered Learning FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Steps – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

5th and 6th students at GEMS having been studying a variety of topics this year. An exciting change from last year is that the program has expanded to include a focus on neuroscience in Social Studies and Science. The classroom science classes focused on neurons as part of their cell unit and in social studies all students read John Fleischman’s book Phineas Gage, which tells an important chapter in neuroscience history that transpired right here in Vermont.

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The GEMS Enrichment Program partnered with classroom teachers this year to offer the Brain Pilots Program. This program is available to all students in 5th and 6th grade.


This year sixth graders were fortunate to meet Professor Mark Stefani and four of his students who are neuroscience majors at Middlebury College.  By the time Dr. Stefani came for an afternoon of workshops, the children had already had lots of experiences with this topic due to the collaboration between enrichment and 6th grade teachers.

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The Enrichment Program at GEMS offers large group programs such as author visits, chess tournaments and artist residencies. Nancy Mildrum, Nancy Volatile-Wood, and MJ Mitiguy work with other staff members and students in our school to provide as many enrichment opportunities as possible for as many students as possible. Enrichment offerings range from large group events such as  fine arts residencies and community speakers, to individual support for young mathematicians, writers, researchers, and builders.

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