Eighth graders in Mr. Stott's science class get a lot of individual attention; one way he says he tries to engage the kids.
"There is a big push for that here. We are trying to make them more active learners," Greg Stott said.
It's a philosophy that this Hanover Middle school teacher says is becoming more and more effective.
"You know kind of stepping away from lecturing as much. Getting the kids more involved with projects or lab work, engaging them with more of their senses," Stott explained.
And test scores show it's working. Eighth graders in New Hampshire ranked number two in the country in science on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, an initiative that started in 1969 known as "the Nation's Report Card." But it's a ranking that does not come as a shock to these kids who go to school in one of the strongest districts in the state.
"It's not totally surprising, I guess," said Juliette Dietz, an eighth-grader. "I mean this is a really good school. I know compared to a lot in the country we have a lot of resources and things here that others might not, but I still think that is a really cool achievement."
An achievement only outdone by a younger generation-- fourth graders in New Hampshire tied for first on their 2009 NAEP science test results.
"Where are the children when they are doing the science? They are in the field actually participating in the science," teacher Pamela Force said.
Fourth-grade teachers there cite the same reason-- hands-on learning that often takes place outside of the classroom near the pond, stream and woods behind the school.
"It is real," Force said. "They see the animals. That is what engages them. They can ask questions that can be answered by actually doing their own investigations."
Investigations that are leading to high test results. Something that makes any student smile.
"I'm from there which makes me proud," Dietz said.
Over 5,000 fourth and eighth graders across New Hampshire were randomly selected to take the test. And while the Hanover School district may already be known for its excellence, the results are proof that excellence spreads throughout the rest of the Granite State as well.
Vermont students were not included in the 2009 rankings for science. Students in the Green Mountain State only took the math, reading, and writing portion of the test.
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