Advancing STEM, Sustainability & Climate Education with new partner schools

The Change is Simple program started in 1 classroom over 7 years ago. The intent was to develop a program to fit into all schools for all learners. A learner centric program, not focused on the what but on the who and why. For this reason our program could be picked up and moved to Iowa or Alaska or Nevada and the outcomes and student engagement would be exactly the same. (we plan to make that happen some day.)  With that said we want aim to create authentic learning experiences and quality programming for partner schools. Because of your support we have been able to offer the program to more schools this year and will be able to reach even more next year. 

We are pleased to announce new partnerships with Danvers, Salem, Revere, Marblehead, and Harborlight Montessori. Some launched this spring while others will begin in Sept. These schools are partnering with CiS to advance STEM learning, and inspire sustainably minded children who are problem solving for today and tomorrow. 

Change is Simple is funded largely through individual donations from people who have experienced the programming firsthand and want to see the organization grow and expand. It is also funded by grants and corporate support. The organization is a 2013 Cummings Foundation $100K for 100 grantee, the 2017 Greater Beverly NonProfit of the Year, and a Project Green Schools award winner, and is also supported by corporations, including Cell Signaling, New England Biolabs, and National Grid. We are only able to reach new schools because of this generous support.

Last month, the Belmontes celebrated milestones from seven years of teaching, including educating 20,000 students, at the first annual ChangeMaker dinner, honoring donors who contribute $1000 or more. A $1000 donation funds an entire classroom for a year. The ChangeMakers have donated $125,000 to date. The event was hosted by Sean Ward at Peirce Farm at Witch Hill in Topsfield.

From starting in one classroom in Beverly in 2011, to now serving over 30 schools annually, the influx of funding, and word of mouth about the program has allowed CiS to expand to additional communities which will continue to grow this fall to incorporate Danvers, Essex, Marblehead, Salem and Revere.

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Cutting edge with Ipswich Middle School

200 6th grade students at the Ipswich Middle school used solar technology, battery storage and hydroponics to build a nearly maintenance-free growing system that will be used by the community.  These students in Mrs. Christine Senechal and Mrs. Samantha Colby science class participated in a year-long program focused on creating Sustainable Communities. Ipswich Middle School partnered with Beverly based non-profit Change is Simple to develop the curriculum over the past two years. Students participated in workshops led by Change is Simple.  Some of the workshops included city planning, green chemistry, GMOs, renewable energy, water management, and global food systems, energy efficiency and more.  The workshops have students using real world tools and applications to solve today's issues and innovate tomorrow's solutions.  

The year-long program led to a project that integrated many parts of the students experience; building four hydroponic growing systems to place in the newly established Generation Growers Garden at Ipswich High School.  Students new knowledge on the food system, and water resources, along with building solar and wind turbines culminated to this project. With growing population, the limited water resources of the Ipswich River these hydroponic gardens offer an innovated solution. 

This hydroponic system uses 90% less water than traditional soil gardens and yields 30% larger plants. The Hydroponic systems will be monitored and results will be compared to plants growing in a raised bed soil garden that will grow the same plants. 

The program also incorporated field experts from Revision Solar of North Andover who joined in the collaboration with students, teachers and Change is Simple to install solar power and battery technology in order to power the hydroponic growing system.

Boston STEM Partnership meeting

Co-Directors Patrick & Lauren and Program Director Haven Hatch were magically whisked away on the Ferry to Thompson Island in Boston Harbor on a beautiful day late May day. They joined a group of Educators and partners that are collaborating to support Boston STEM initiatives. 

The Keynote for the day was presented by Boston Public Schools superintendent Dr. Tommy Chang. He spoke on how partners and experiential education can help close opportunity gaps in some of the city's most underserved neighborhoods. "We've done a study on many factors that contribute to this opportunity gap. We are calling the results of this study the opportunity index,"  said Chang. 

Chang went on to describe how they are pursuing solutions to support teachers and students and use new ways and partners to close achievement gaps. With representatives from over 40 organizations collaboration and stakeholder involvement will have a dramatic effect on the youth of Boston and the future of education for the district and region.  The Change is Simple team was thrilled to be apart of that conversation.

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