Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP) students of Turn Back Time in Paxton, MA continue to offer gratitude to the Class of 2020 for their Senior Class Gift of a yurt. In appreciation for their own IQP experiences, the Class of 2020 used their class gift to support the local Farm Stay Project Center for future students who desired an off-campus IQP. 

Shannon Henderson ’23 who loves nature and being outdoors very much wanted an off-campus IQP, but she needed to remain near campus for her job. Thanks to the generosity of the Class of 2020 Henderson was able to complete her IQP off-campus. “My off-campus IQP had a major impact on my life.” says Henderson. “Whether the weather was cold and rainy or beautiful and sunny I spent the majority of my farm time outside; I felt my mood improve and got to experience the many benefits of learning in nature.”


Henderson, along with Joseph Salvato ’23 and two other IQP partners, lived in a yurt village on the 58-acre working farm and nature education center. Tasked with creating an interactive learning opportunity for the children and at-risk youth who benefit from the farm's programs, the team built a dry creek bed to reroute stormwater runoff and mitigate erosion on the main road of the farm. “We sourced locally for rocks and equipment and added a mud kitchen where the creek drains for the farm’s school children, capitalizing on the available water and the kids' love for water and mud play.” says Henderson.

Salvato also praises the IQP project saying, “Turn Back Time is such a wonderful place; I’m really happy WPI is helping the children of our local community grow and expand. And I’m especially grateful to the Class of 2020 for supporting the yurts. The yurts were incredibly important to our project. They gave us all a central location to do work, relax, and be together.”


Director of the Farm Stay Project Center, Environmental and Sustainability Studies Associate Professor Elisabeth Stoddard also offers gratitude to the Class on 2020. “Affording students the opportunity to live at their IQP site for seven weeks makes a powerful and meaningful impact on their lives. Beyond the benefit of being outside in nature for seven weeks, the students really enjoy being able to design and build something tangible. It is rewarding and challenging to bring an idea into fruition. Many students do not often or ever have the opportunity to paint, carve, and dig or use a hammer, nail, saw, drill, etc. They like the creativity, physical labor, and tangible outcome of the projects.” says Stoddard. 

Additionally, Stoddard shares, “The IQP students love their interactions with and impacts on the children at the school. They are able to observe how the kids interact with the things they build and design, see where their designs meet their intended uses or not, and watch the kids have fun, laugh, explore, and learn. Many students return to the farm to volunteer or work, and many students have changed their ideas about what they want to do when they graduate as a result - not work in a lab or in an office, but outside or teach, etc.”

Thank you, Class of 2020!