Lower School Intraterm 2019

School News
March 5, 2019- The history of Colorado is pretty fascinating. Oceans, dinosaurs, and massive climate change provide a great preamble to a relatively recent past that is just as interesting. Between Native American cultural history, westward expansion, mining booms and busts, Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division, and the role Colorado has played in the evolution of alpine sports, there’s ample learning opportunities to be found right outside our doors. 

With this in mind, Lower School teachers and students have embarked on an Intraterm journey that will play out over the next four years and take them from pre-history to the present. Part one took place this year and focused on the period between the first signs of life and the extinction of the dinosaurs. 

“We realized that Colorado’s history isn't really covered in lower school,” says teacher Kelly Enright, who was a driving force in developing this year’s Lower School Intraterm curriculum. 
“In the spirit of creating true project-based learning, we started with a driving question, which was, ‘How did Colorado's ecosystem change from early life to the extinction of the dinosaurs?’ 

Over five days, students working in cross-age groups, dug into dinosaurs, learning all they could about where and how these prehistoric creatures lived, which it turns out is much much closer than many knew. Here’s what it looked like. 


The week kicked off with a visit from Billy with the Fossil Posse. Students had the opportunity to see and touch real fossils, but also learned of recent discoveries in Eagle County that include what may be some of the largest ever documented dinosaur footprints. 


Back in the classrooms, this letter from the esteemed Dr. Brian T. Sauros set the stage for the week ahead. 


Each group was responsible for choosing a dinosaur, researching it, building a theme park exhibit with everything their dinosaur would need to survive. 


Classrooms were filled with the buzz of cross-age activity and everyday materials like cardboard, string, and popsicle sticks quickly became habitats for dinosaurs. 


Students were also tasked with promoting their theme park exhibit with posters and press releases. 


Inside the building on Friday morning, students shared their work with other groups during a museum walk. 


Outside, teachers organized an archaeological dig in the snow. 


Buried deep under “millions of years of snow” were dinosaur eggs created by freezing dino toys in water balloons. 
 

Student Reflections

I'm grateful for the people that were in my group because they really worked together with me and we had a lot of fun. It wasn't just like building and learning facts. It was also friendship.

—Silas, 1st Grade 
 

“I really like Intraterm because you interact with people that you don't really know and actually get to know them and do cool projects. A lot of it is about getting along with other people and making it good for everyone.”

—Julian, 2nd Grade
 

“'I’m really grateful that we have the time to do Intraterm and discover new things that we've never known.”

—Abby, 3rd Grade
 

“I learned that I could work with a team and that I didn't have to do it all by myself. I had teammates that could work with me and help me.”

—Tatum, 4th Grade
 

"It was really cool how all the younger kids looked up to you like you are the leader."

—Declan, 5th Grade

About Vail Mountain School

Founded in 1962, Vail Mountain School is a K-12, coed, independent school in Vail, Colorado. Our philosophy is to provide a demanding, college preparatory, liberal arts education in an atmosphere of mutual respect between faculty and students, where nurturing a healthy self-concept and stimulating academic inquiry are parallel objectives. Intentionally designed cross-age programs promote role modeling, responsibility, self confidence, and a sense of community. Our location in the Rocky Mountains allows us to integrate the outdoors into the academic and cultural fabric of the school through hut trips, all-school Ski Fridays, and other experiential learning opportunities. The result: our graduates possess a quiet confidence that serves them well in college and in life—confidence to assert themselves in their first college level essays; to raise their hand in a class of hundreds; to live on their own for the first time, to meet with and engage their professors; and to lead among their peers.