Rethinking Science Education

Martin County Schools to Benefit from Grant

A recently received grant will allow some Martin County Schools’ science educators to meet students outside the traditional classroom box.

 The Center for Inquiry-Based Learning (CIBL) has been awarded a $25,000 Ribbon of Hope Grant from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation.

 The award will be used to fund a hands-on science initiative in Martin County for two years. Students in grades four through eight will be the beneficiaries.

 CIBL’s innovative project combine its signature inquiry-based science with citizen science, which includes connections to science researchers throughout the state and the United States.

 “This grant will provide our students with hands-on examples and activities that will support science vocabulary along with key science concepts that are taught in the classroom,” explained Cliff Hudson, previous STEM Coordinator for Martin County Schools. The science teacher turned administrator applied for this opportunity prior to transitioning roles.

 Thanks to this grant, science is not the only thing students will be educated on. Critical thinking skills will be tested and developed.

 “These student activity packs also focus on scientific inquiry, which will require our students to think critically along with written communication and ask I wonder statements.

 “Stronger critical thinking will better prepare our students for test taking along with preparing them to be successful in the working world, “ explained Hudson.

 “Inquiry-based learning helps students make their own connections about what they are learning, and their curiosity helps them engage and gain a deeper understanding of topics and content,” he concluded.

 CIBL contributed funding to support initial teacher training, which began on place January 5 and 6. This is in addition to ongoing science coaching and implementation support.

 “CIBL's mission has always been to support North Carolina teachers with the most engaging, integrated, hands-on STEM curriculum, and through this amazing project, we are able to do just that in Martin County,” said Rachael Polmanteer, CIBL’s Resource Development Director.

 “We are thankful for this opportunity and look forward to the students being able to experience hands-on science and participate in real scientific research through citizen science."

 Maggie Balengia, a science teacher at South Creek Middle School, attended the initial training, which used the same kits the students will be using.

 “This grant will provide my 8th graders an opportunity to see the science they have been learning about in action and get a real-life example or experience of the content covered to make the content come to life,” she explained.

 When asked what the biggest benefit of this initiative may be, Belangia responded, “They will see the real-world implications of what we learn about in the classroom and understand that the science we go over is not abstract/imaginary.”

  Cristy Johnson, a teacher from Jamesville Elementary School, also took part in the training and is ready to get her students working on the material.

 “I'm excited for the hands-on activities/lessons that are ready for me to implement with my kids,” Johnson said, expressing additional excitement over the fact she does not have to search, find, gather and buy materials for such activities.

 “I would love more, and I haven't even been given the first one yet for them to use.”



The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation is an independent self-funding 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization supporting activities that help meet the educational and health needs of today’s society and future generations. Since its creation in 1986, the foundation has granted over $88 million to support North Carolina projects and programs emphasizing the understanding and application of science, health, and education at all academic and professional levels. Visit their website at


CIBL is a North Carolina nonprofit with a mission to support North Carolina K-8 teachers with training and the most engaging, integrated, hands-on STEM curriculum materials that promote creativity, collaboration and communication. For more information, visit their website at