Learning on Saturday
Leslie Ercole watches as Dakota (right) explains his video game.
Nathaniel works on his sound track for a video game he created.
It’s 9 a.m. on a cold, gray Saturday in December, and most students are at home sleeping. But at the
St. Johnsbury Middle School, in St.
Johnsbury, Vermont, USA, 24 fifth
through eighth graders rush into the
computer lab, log on to computers,
and start playing video games. It is
not the mindless endeavor that one
might envision when kids are gaming. These kids are participating in a
grant-funded project called Saturday
School. Directed by Leslie Ercole, a St.
J middle school mathematics teacher,
Saturday School teaches students
academic content through project-based learning. It’s funded by a grant
from the Vermont Department for
Children and Families Youth Justice
Unit, and the five video gaming sessions align with President Obama’s
initiative to promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)
“My mom made me come!” Alex,
an eighth grader, admitted. But she
would soon find her own reason for
wanting to join Ercole’s Saturday