BRATTLEBORO — Rep. Mollie Burke, P/D-Brattleboro, turned fourth-graders into cartographers with a project she called "Maps by Hand."

"There were all different kinds of topics," she said. "This is one of the things I do in my off-time."

Burke was hired for a 10-day period through a Vermont Arts Council grant. The nonprofit has a list of approved teaching artists to step in for projects and Burke is one of them.

Students from three separate classes learned about history, culture and geography as they were asked to think about ways in which maps used to be drawn.

Taking a break between legislative sessions, Burke applauded the kids on putting so much effort into a project during their last two weeks of school. Monday's exhibit was the first time students were looking at maps from all the classes.

Fourth-grade teacher Kate Rabideau said this project marked the second time the fourth grade had a teaching artist work with students through the Vermont Arts Council.

"It's becoming a tradition I think," she said. "We study Vermont so it was a great project to do at the end of the year."

Fourth-grader Ava Ferencz focused on ski slopes. First, she drew a map of Vermont using a compass. Then she booted up a computer to search for all the ski areas the Green Mountain State has to offer.

"But since there's so many I did top ski areas," she said.

When asked if she had ever skied, Ferencz said, "Not yet."

"I like to watch people go skiing," she added.


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Fourth-grader Willem Thurber also created a map of ski resorts. He has been to places such as Stratton, Mount Snow, Burke, Jay Peak and several others.

"These are all for downhill skiing," said Thurber, pointing at his project.

Fourth-grader William Hill made a map of all the venues where hockey games can be viewed. He plays on the Brattleboro Greyhawks peewee team.

"I'm looking forward to playing at all the rinks in Vermont," he said.

Fourth-grader Mya Eagle's map depicted areas around the state known for maple sugaring. She said she enjoys watching people making syrup.

The project was fun, she said.

"It was about my state," said Eagle, who moved to Vermont from Connecticut when she was 6 months old. "I love the mountains and the lakes in front of them."

Another map showed sections of the Underground Railroad in Vermont. Slaves in the United States used this network of secret routes and safe houses to escape to free states and Canada.

Russell Babb's map contained lakes and rivers around the state. He enjoys swimming, fishing and skipping rocks.

"I love going to all types of lakes and rivers," he said. "And I love water."

State Rep. Mollie Burke, P/D-Brattleboro, looks over various maps of Vermont that fourth-grade students at the Academy School in Brattleboro created.
State Rep. Mollie Burke, P/D-Brattleboro, looks over various maps of Vermont that fourth-grade students at the Academy School in Brattleboro created. (Chris Mays Brattleboro Reformer)

Contact Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 273.