1. Rajeev Rupani
  2. Senior Research Associate
  3. Change Makers: Urban Youth Food Justice Ambassadors
  4. http://iuse.bc.edu/
  5. Boston College
  1. Mike Barnett
  2. http://iuse.bc.edu
  3. Professor of Science Education and Technology
  4. Change Makers: Urban Youth Food Justice Ambassadors
  5. http://iuse.bc.edu/
  6. Boston College
  1. Meghan Broadstone
  2. https://www.edc.org/staff/meghan-broadstone
  3. Research Scientist
  4. Change Makers: Urban Youth Food Justice Ambassadors
  5. http://iuse.bc.edu/
  6. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Jackie DeLisi
  2. Senior Research Scientist
  3. Change Makers: Urban Youth Food Justice Ambassadors
  4. http://iuse.bc.edu/
  5. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Marcello Rossi
  2. SPS Changemakers Manager
  3. Change Makers: Urban Youth Food Justice Ambassadors
  4. http://iuse.bc.edu/
  5. Boston College, Springfield Public Schools (MA)
  1. Catherine Wong
  2. https://www.bc.edu/content/bc-web/schools/lynch-school/our-community/urban-outreach.html
  3. Director, Urban Outreach Initiatives
  4. Change Makers: Urban Youth Food Justice Ambassadors
  5. http://iuse.bc.edu/
  6. Boston College
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Rajeev Rupani

    Rajeev Rupani

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Associate
    May 4, 2020 | 08:33 p.m.

    In this project, we are working with youth, teachers, and school districts across Massachusetts to develop and implement a youth-driven food justice program. We use a tiered mentoring model in which high school youth support and mentor middle school youth from their communities in learning the interdisciplinary science of hydroponics and managing large scale hydroponic systems within their school district. By developing youth leadership within the program, we are also aiming to cultivate a youth-empowered pathway for STEM career exploration where youth can mobilize their enhanced STEM knowledge and skills to illuminate and resolve social injustices. The curriculum that is utilized in this project (which can be found here) is grounded in a social justice framework; with a focus on food justice, food security, and engaging the youth to address issues around food access that exist in their communities by establishing youth-led Food Justice Ambassador corps in their city.

    A core component of this project is the hands-on learning, teaching, and mentoring experiences that the youth engage in. As our teachers, project staff, and evaluators have observed, these in-person experiences provided a strong foundation for youth to understand the core STEM concepts within this project. Youth were also able to articulate the deeper understanding of concepts and skills that came from participating in these experiences and reflecting upon them, and saw the benefits of teaching their peers and middle school youth as a way of connecting with them and reinforcing their own learning. A challenge that has presented itself with the recent shift to remote learning is establishing a pathway and / or platform, where this level of impact on the students can be recreated in a virtual setting.

     
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    Marcello Rossi
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    Aarti THAWRANI.

    May 6, 2020 | 07:06 a.m.

    Rajeev is hardworking ,studios & dedicated .Proud of u dear.

  • Small default profile

    Aarti THAWRANI.

    May 6, 2020 | 07:06 a.m.

    Rajeev is hardworking ,studios & dedicated .Proud of u dear.

  • Small default profile

    Aarti THAWRANI.

    May 6, 2020 | 07:06 a.m.

    Rajeev is hardworking ,studios & dedicated .Proud of u dear.

  • Small default profile

    Aarti THAWRANI.

    May 6, 2020 | 07:06 a.m.

    Rajeev is hardworking ,studios & dedicated .Proud of u dear.

  • Small default profile

    Aarti THAWRANI.

    May 6, 2020 | 07:06 a.m.

    Rajeev is hardworking ,studios & dedicated .Proud of u dear.

     
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    Mike Barnett
    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 07:50 p.m.

    Just saying that I like this post :) :)

  • May 5, 2020 | 03:58 p.m.

    This is an amazing program! I love how you combined teaching about science with social justice. It has been shown that one of the major barriers to underrepresented groups participating in science is their desire to give back to their communities and their (false) perception that science doesn't allow them to do that. You are very directly addressing that problem!

    I hope you disseminate your evidence for impact, such as increased interest in school and science, better retention, etc. since those impacts will resonate for a lot of people across the country.

    I would like to see more direct testimony from your students about the program and the impact it is having on their lives. Both Ed Madison's and our video focus on what I call "student voices". Check out both our videos for an idea of what I mean.

    Great job!

     
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    Steven Greenstein
    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 04:04 p.m.

    Thanks.  Yep there is a three minute challenge :).  We had more student's in the last years video.  Though should check out the students' receipe book where they got to share their values and culture through dishes they cooked with their produce.

     
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    Scott Bellman
  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 04:26 p.m.

    I agree, and this is how it happened. I started making the video testimonials a few weeks before the schools closing and we had a few testimonials done only they had serious audio issues. If we had known what was coming (covid19 School closings) our timeline would’ve been different.
    We finished the Changemakers Hydroponics SPSSA (Springfield Public Schools Supported Agriculture) Recipe Cook Book. Then the Changemakers Ambassadors ( 9-10-11-12 graders) did two weeks of working with - Mentoring the Stem Academy Middle School Changemakers Hydroponics Sprouts (7-8 graders)

    Then the Ambassadors and the Sprouts together participated in the Changemakers project LIFE PURPOSE workshop.

    I started working on making the testimonials video segments for today’s showcase a few weeks before the shutdown. 
    We also just started our SPSSA Hydroponics Market, were the Changemakers Ambassador’s and Sprouts grew from seeds medicinal herbs and pesto grade Basil, Peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, etc plants for sale to the School community. Then boom!! Shelter in place. It’s the way it happened. Thank you for your comments. I will check out your videos. PeacE

     
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    Mike Barnett
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    Cristina Martínez

    May 12, 2020 | 10:13 a.m.

    Thank you! Very interesting!!

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Ed Robeck

    Ed Robeck

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 07:01 p.m.

    This feels like one of those "this is the way all schools should be for kids" projects. Not getting them ready for some abstract future, but using their creativity, concern, and skills to take on real problems in their community. They become a resource for those communities.

    Can you say something about how this relates to the standard curriculum? Are the projects somehow part of the students' coursework, or is this extra-curricular?

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 07:28 p.m.

    This is all out of school.  We do make links back to standards but for the most part we are focused on the students learning the science hydroponics and its interdisciplinary aspects.  Seems easier to do interdisciplinary work in OST settings than in-school, particularly high school, given current structures.  

  • May 12, 2020 | 04:28 p.m.

    More important than ever with food insecurity having grown exponentially along with COVID-19.  Community gardens should be more important than ever this summer.

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Ed Robeck

    Ed Robeck

    Facilitator
    May 5, 2020 | 07:02 p.m.

    I'm also interested in how fully students get to put their ideas into action. How does that work? It seems like the project ideas might call for a lot of coordination between stakeholders. Is that true?

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 07:30 p.m.

    This a great Raj and Marcello question.  I will let them respond as they are the feet on the ground, particularly Marcello :).  Though will say that it is important to have a community liason between the youth and the rest of the partners.  

  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 5, 2020 | 07:56 p.m.

    Hi Ed, it does require lots of commitment from all the Participants. Mostly from the schools Teachers in particular.
    Changemakers Hydroponics project provides schools with  an incredibly robust project based learning set of tools, equipment, science based resources and Expert mentoring support.

    At each school district there are different dynamics and it takes lots of coordination of many different cultural interest, essentially most schools projects are being lead by the schools teachers involved. I present the projects to the teachers and students, then it develops into whatever the teachers and students common vision is of that project,  then we all co create to make it happen.
    Again this calls for lots of personal dedication and determined  purpose from everyone involved. As well as coordinations of many different schedules lol Just like real life. 

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    Melissa Rupani

    May 6, 2020 | 08:16 a.m.

    This team does great work! This is an amazing program, I appreciate how they combine the science with the social justice aspect.

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: David Campbelll

    David Campbelll

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 10:45 a.m.

    This project has many components; it would be difficult to get it all in three minutes even in the best of times.  I think it would be interesting if someone developed a learning sequence beginning with an elementary school garden and ending with a project like changemakers

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 07:55 p.m.

    I agree, I think that would be great.  Marcello has been doing that.  We also piloted a program in Worcester with the high school youth working with 4th and 5th graders.  What was fascinating about that is that the high school students who were in charge of those youth really took the preparation for teaching far more seriously than the ones that were going to teach 8th graders.  It was interesting in watching the HS youth assumptions about what elementary and middle school youth can learn.  I was initially a bit dubious over the idea, but we listen to our school partners and trust their experience, because there is a big developmental difference between those grades, but it worked amazingly well. 

    One of the ideas that we are thinking about with the pandemic thing is taking the greenhouse project, and using small scale hydroponic systems in them and making a kit that goes home to the whole family and drawing upon the expertise of our HS youth leaders to be family mentors as they learn to build and grow systems.  Since it is unlikely that we will be able to run our programs this summer thinking about how that would look.

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 11:32 a.m.

    Hi David Campbell, that is exactly what I have been working on! This year I started working with an elementary school teacher that is very engaged and because of her strong mentoring so are her students.

    I am calling it Changemakers Hydroponics Seedlings k-5. Changemakers Hydroponics Sprouts 6-8.           Changemakers Hydroponics Ambassadors 9-12.     Changemakers Hydroponics Food Justice Leaders first year of College. 

    This is the way forward, yes indeed! Thank you for your comments.

     

  • Icon for: Sheikh Ahmad Shah

    Sheikh Ahmad Shah

    Graduate Student
    May 6, 2020 | 12:40 p.m.

    It is really hard to put the whole story in just three minutes. If you dive in, then you can realize how impactful this project is. I am sure that most of the people are unaware of these issues of "food justice" and "food deserts", and how growing foods locally is so important. Students can understand that studying science is not only about improving grades, but also about having a real impact on society. This experience would change every student's view about science, irrespective of the fact whether they would be in the STEM field in the future or not.

     
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    Steven Greenstein
    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Kate Meredith

    Kate Meredith

    President - GLAS Education
    May 6, 2020 | 12:59 p.m.

    Where can we go to learn more about how the project and mentorship is set up and run?  

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 07:56 p.m.

    The Ph.D. students are working on a couple of articles about that and Marcello is currently working on a "user" manual.  

  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 01:57 p.m.

    Yes Sheikh, right on target. The Changemakers experience does bring Science to a different level then what’s assumed Science is. 
    The Ambassadors and Sprouts are learning Science and that  being a scientist also correlates with being an entrepreneur or an excellent Science Teacher or a modern Farmer, and much more. 
    Food Justice is not guaranteed for everyone it is dependent on our existing  Politics and if our Science sectors can function independently from the manipulation of our mighty Dollar.
    Education is not limited to passing an exam or writing a book or graduating from some Ivy League school or getting good grades you’re so correct.

    Food Justice is basically about who’s looking out for you or me it all comes back to - are we honestly looking for solutions or I we just going to believe the illusion that these inter generational injustices have no solutions? This pervasive illusion will end when Science becomes of service to help the world and our children are the ones that will do it. Thank you brother, peace.

  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 02:24 p.m.

    Hi Kate, very good question. We are implementing a multi tiered Mentoring structure,  that involves  everyone engaged in the projects activities.
    It’s a very natural process meaning we don’t have a Mentoring method or designated training. OnE Mentor May be the best for some Mentees at the same time- he or she may not be the best for everyone, so “everyone” is needed.

    The more different each Mentor is the more of an opportunity for all Mentees to find a good relationship match.

    Our trainings are mostly about understanding positive characters traits and what is the meaning of having a Life Purpose or several  in one lifetime. We break bread, cook and make teas, have group talks, practice good communication skills and share life experiences as much as we can possibly fit into our time together, helping each other build a better world, face our fears and leave our comfort zones.

    The relationship dynamics are not always easygoing and we debrief about this and how can we keep moving forward, for everyone to participate, reach our goals and grow together in a more healthy way, feeling better and reassured that we all have a community network of support for life. This is my best answer to your very important question. Thank you for your question. PeacE

  • Icon for: Steven Greenstein

    Steven Greenstein

    Facilitator
    May 6, 2020 | 05:23 p.m.

    I'll echo the sentiments of others -- this is a wonderful project. I appreciate the social justice component and how you appropriately center students and their communities in the work. It would seem to me that students who participate in a project that is motivated by social justice and that is authentic and personally meaningful to them would then provoke them to critique (a disposition cultivated by social justice work) conventional approaches to schooling -- where they're often right to wonder "why are we learning this?" What have the students told you about why they do better in school after having participated in this program?

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 11:44 p.m.

    Here are some quotes from some changemakers ambassadors:

    This is N she said: “Changemakers basically taught me that there's multiple things you can do, and even though you have one passion set ahead, you can do multiple things with that passion, or you can branch off into other things.” She expounded, “I'm able to see how there's like other things you can do…Like there can be one type of science, but there's also different perspectives to it because there’s regular planting of soil, but there's also hydroponics and there’s different branches to each type of science.” -N

    This is A he said: “I feel like I'm going to be able to accomplish my goal no matter what happens in my life”-A

    This is M he said “He helped me understand… why we're doing it and how it will change the world.” -M

    This is T she said “The first step is to believe it’s not what could you do, but it’s you can do something, and then you figure out what could you do. So, I like that perspective on it a lot.” -T

     This is D he said “It's always a challenge ‘cause I have to work for everything. Maybe there's new obstacles in the way, but I know I can overcome them. Even colleges for financial aid, stuff like that, it's a challenge in my way, but I know I can overcome it by hard work, talking to the right people, communicating and then I'll be able to set my goal and then maybe get where I have to be and improve from there.” -D

     

     
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    Steven Greenstein
  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 6, 2020 | 05:52 p.m.

    Hi Steven, in my district students Ambassadors and Sprouts alike are saying that they like the project based learning activities and learning by doing. Some of my Ambassadors have been in the Changemakers Hydroponics project for 3 years and are graduating this year some of them say it helped them grow more confident about such choices like; choosing between going into the Navy or going into first year of College, others are saying it has helped them to understand more about themselves and how to accept their responsibilities in what happens if they do not get work done or that it’s best to ask for help if necessary. Many Ambassadors  have expressed their feelings about how the Changemakers experience has given them a positive strong self esteem and how important it is to know one’s purpose which helps them know their own self worth. The Ambassadors in 12 grade get the typical jobs that most at that age get, but these ambassadors are not happy getting just minimum wage or to be treated like a mule, they say lol. The Ambassadors strive for higher paying jobs and or start their own business and some go to the military because that’s what they feel is right for them and not because they have no better options. These are some students feedback from the last 3 years. I know there’s more from other districts and maybe Mike or Raj or any of my team can add more. Thank you for your questions 

  • May 7, 2020 | 01:08 a.m.

    Very exciting project!  I like the approach of doing multi-tiered mentoring and wonder if you could say a few words about how you prepare the older students to mentor the younger ones effectively.  Do they get special training? I also appreciate that you are doing all this through OST.  Again, really impressive.  

  • Icon for: Marcello Rossi

    Marcello Rossi

    Co-Presenter
    May 7, 2020 | 01:39 a.m.

    Hi Sallie, there’s been several different ways to approach getting the Changemakers Ambassadors ready to mentor and work together with the Sprouts (6-7-8 grades).

    I sometimes depending on the activities have done role play mentoring scenarios and we practice.
    We prep by doing research of the subjects of choice and divide the responsibilities or create work groups that focus on subjects of their interests.  
    The Ambassadors meet at their Highschool 30 to 40 minutes before the Mentoring Sprouts workshop, check in, eat some food, and we go over the lesson plans and reinforce the importance of good communication skills, speaking clearly and listening to the Sprouts attentively, and following the prepared lessons plans steps. The importance of paying special attention to the details like using proper vocabulary and being conscious that as Mentors what we do, how we behave and how we present ourselves is all being absorbed by the Sprouts. 
    There are 20 Ambassadors and average about 15 to 25 Sprouts, per mentoring workshop. We have learned to allow each Ambassadors work groups (average 3 to 5 students per group) to focus on activities and subjects of interest to them. The Sprouts also divide into groups of 3 or 4 students and carousel around the classroom to each Ambassador work groups spending 5 to 7 minutes mini lessons- mentoring with each different Ambassadors work groups.
    Then the Sprouts and the Ambassadors talk about how the lessons and activities made them feel and we all share how it impacted each of them, how it could help them and how much they learned from each other, what worked and what didn’t etc.... this is just one example. 

  • Icon for: Francene Watson

    Francene Watson

    Researcher
    May 8, 2020 | 02:31 p.m.

    What an inspiration to see this intersection--community-based, youth-driven "solutionaries" in STEM (and beyond). Striking is the mixed aged learning groups and how gardens/food sovereignty/health/wellness/connections starts and ends, perhaps, in the ground. I think especially in our present times where particular structures are falling away and/or reconfiguring themselves (e.g. farmers folding food into the ground with restaurant closures/suspensions), it seems that more and more, communities will be looking at resiliency models. I see this as a lead model, inherently interdisciplinary and inquiry based. Love the mapping component, where students circle round and round again fundamentally asking the question, are we cared for? Does everyone have what they need? If not, how do we grow it? Curious how teachers are engaging? In other words, if after-school by design or necessity? I ask from a place of wishing work like this WAS an integrated part of a student's school experience. Again, THANK YOU. Will be looking through the curriculum link you provided. Very cool.

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Rajeev Rupani

    Rajeev Rupani

    Lead Presenter
    Senior Research Associate
    May 11, 2020 | 03:28 p.m.

    Hi Dr. Watson, thank you so much for your kind words. The geospatial mapping is a key component for students to define and frame the issues around food access, food justice, and food security that they will be addressing in their communities through their participating in Changemakers. The project is designed to be run in an after-school setting and this has developed into more of necessity based on our observations (Marcello and Mike might also want to expand on this);  the after-school setting provides a more flexible environment for the students to learn and practice the hands-on STEM content and skills associated with the project, and to develop and hone their teaching and mentoring skills, while providing student teams with increased ownership to create their own pathway through this project and what area(s) they would like to focus on. For the high school youth, the logistics of an after-school setting also provide increased opportunities to mentor and teach middle school youth from their school and communities.

  • May 12, 2020 | 10:59 a.m.

    What a neat way to bring social/food justice to students in a contextualized setting that integrates STEM and connects learning within community.  What kind of data is this project producing? Surveys? Video? Audio? Learning Outcomes? Looking forward to reading some write-ups of this work! Thanks for sharing.

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Mike Barnett

    Mike Barnett

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2020 | 11:03 a.m.

    More than we can analyze :).  The primary research has focused on how youth develop a sense of purpose and how that influence their thinking around STEM as a field and a potential STEM career.  The fantastic Ph.D. student team have been collecting survey data at multiple time points and we are tracking youth as they participate in the project over time as we do find that it takes about 2 years for a student who has checked out of STEM to begin to develop the confidence again to consider it as an option.  I think Ron summarizes the findings best in the video in that we have noticed that youth stay more engaged in school and graduate in that they now have a sense of how what they are learning contributes to their sense of purpose and contribution to the larger community.  

     

  • Icon for: Jonathan Lewis

    Jonathan Lewis

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 12, 2020 | 11:59 a.m.

    Creating food and STEM ambassadors in a social justice framework strikes me as very powerful.  Nice work! 

     
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    Marcello Rossi
  • Icon for: Graciela Solis

    Graciela Solis

    Researcher
    May 12, 2020 | 07:59 p.m.

    This was incredibly interesting work. Growing up near food deserts growing up I can't even imagine how empowering it is for students to find food and help their larger community.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.