In September, twelve staff members of Lancaster Elementary School began taking a course through Plymouth State University. Teaching STEM through Permaculture, was made possible through a Tillotson grant in the amount of $110,930, which was received last spring. This is the first time Plymouth State has offered a course combining STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and permaculture. The course syllabus included what permaculture is, how to incorporate STEM, and how to analyse a potential site for a bioshelter classroom structure on the school’s campus.
As part of the grant, Plymouth State instructors traveled to Lancaster School two or three times each month from September through January to teach the class. As part of the course, there were visits to two New Hampshire permaculture sites. The course participants and instructors traveled to Lost Nation Orchard, in Northumberland, run by Michael Phillips and D-Acres, in Dorchester, run by Josh Trought. These two visits featured permaculture at work as both a way of life and a business model.
Ben Southworth, of Garland Mill Timberframes, also came to discuss what to consider when building a structure designed for sustainability. He explained structural design considerations and how heat gets transferred in and outside a building. This was a wonderful opportunity to ask a professional builder questions about construction but also ways to reduce our carbon footprint in the future structure at Lancaster School.
As the course progressed, participants created a defined goal statement, a site analysis map and STEM units that can be implemented into the first phase of the new structure. Mr. Lamarque and Mr. Whaland met with our town officials in regard to the project and discussed the legal and zoning aspects of the site.
The conclusion of the course will entail presenting an overview of the design process as well as plans for the first phase of the structure. Participants will also present possible future phases which will expand on the functions of the structure. Course participants will present to the school board and the facilities committee. Eighth grade council members have also been part of the process and will present to the planning board of Lancaster.
In closing, they have worked to create a structure that will allow educators to implement Next Generation Science Standards, STEM, Project Lead the Way, and Common Core State Standards that will give our students a comprehensive, in depth, STEM experience that is directly applicable to the future sustainability of the North Country.