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Bringing climate action to classrooms

Kitchener-based edtech company Forward Education is partnering with Let's Talk Science to deliver climate change education in K-12 classrooms across Canada.

"We're incredibly excited about this collaboration – it is an opportunity to make a real impact,” Jeremy Hedges, CEO of Forward Education, said. “This serves as a strong foundation for expanding our learning solutions nationwide.”

Forward Education produces “climate action kits” that enable students to build prototypes of actual technology solutions being used today to address climate change.

The company’s approach combines plastic building blocks, similar to Lego, and an array of motors and sensors that can be attached to the blocks, bringing the learning experience to life.

“Students can explore concepts like wind and solar energy by building wind turbines and solar panels that track the Sun's movement,” said Hedges, a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University. “This straightforward approach makes coding accessible for teachers without prior experience, creating a non-intimidating environment for students in everyday classrooms."

Forward Education is a spinoff of InkSmith, a Kitchener-based edtech company that Hedges founded in 2016. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hedges pivoted to supply plastic face shields to health-care professionals and eventually established The Canadian Shield, a personal protective equipment (PPE) business. 

“With PPE, we experienced exponential growth, growing from a team of 10 to 330 people in just 90 days,” Hedges said. “We produced over 16 million face shields and later extended to manufacturing masks and distributing rapid tests. In six years, I've been able to bootstrap companies to generate over $90 million in revenue – a truly adventurous and rewarding experience."

As part of the partnership, Let’s Talk Science, a national charitable organization, will distribute over 1,000 Climate Action Kits, created by Forward Education, to equity-deserving youth across Canada. 

"Let's Talk Science, a national not-for-profit, has a longstanding history of impactful STEM outreach,” Hedges said. “They have harnessed federal programs like CanCode 3.0 to provide targeted STEM and coding initiatives, benefiting teachers and students alike."

The kits offer online lessons, hardware and building components to create working prototypes of climate change solutions and aim to equip more teachers and students with learning resources, readying them for the rapidly changing job landscape.

"We want coding and robotics to be part of regular science and math classes, not just after-school activities,” Hedges said. “Our goal is that within five years, all students worldwide, in public or private schools, will have the chance to learn coding, and we're here to make it meaningful."

Hedges sees this partnership as a key milestone in Forward Education’s journey.

"This is a big win for us. We aim to see our solutions in 100,000 schools worldwide, and this is a significant early step in that direction."

The kits earned the Best in Show award at ISTE Live23, the largest edtech conference in North America. The kits also picked up Tech & Learning Awards of Excellence: Back to School 2023 in two primary and secondary education categories.

"Communitech helps tech-driven companies start, grow and succeed. Communitech was founded in 1997 by a group of entrepreneurs committed to making Waterloo Region a global innovation leader. At the time it was crazy talk, but somehow this community managed to pull it off. Today, Communitech is a public-private innovation hub that supports a community of more than 1400 companies — from startups to scale-ups to large global players. Communitech helps tech companies start, grow and succeed in three distinct ways: - Communitech is a place – the center of gravity for entrepreneurs and innovators. A clubhouse for building cool shit and great companies. - Communitech delivers programs – helping companies at all stages with access to capital, customers and talent. We are here to help them grow and innovate. - Communitech partners in building a world-leading ecosystem – making sure we have all the ingredients (and the brand) to go from a small startup to a global giant."

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