The Greenhouse Project NYC Bringing Sustainability/STEM education to Life through Urban Agriculture
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The challenges confronting the next generation will require sophisticated competency in STEM fields, yet scientific illiteracy amongst the American public has never been greater. NY Sun Works is a NYC 501C3 org that partners with K-12 NYC public schools to bring Hydroponic greenhouse classrooms and innovative STEM and sustainability curriculum to their campuses. The school greenhouses are platforms for developing critical thinking skills necessary to attain environmental literacy and to help identify solutions to current-day challenges. Through The Greenhouse Project initiative we hope to provide the next generation with the tools they will need to address global environmental issues and become environmental leaders.
Quais são as principais atividades do seu projeto?
NY Sun Works’ first Greenhouse Project was the Science Barge, which the Sun Works team designed, built, and operated for over 2.5 years in the NYC Harbor. The barge is a floating laboratory and urban farm that showcases a variety of power and water systems that produce food, clean water, and renewable energy in an ecologically sustainable way. The centerpiece of the barge is a greenhouse powered by two solar arrays, a wind turbine, and a bio-diesel generator. Water is provided by the Hudson River and by rainfall, and the facility is heated and cooled through low-energy methods. The center uses a method called ‘recirculating greenhouse hydroponics’ to grow tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers. No soil or pumped-in water is utilized in this cultivation process. The vegetables grown on the Science Barge require seven times less land and four times less water than traditional field crops. Over 20,000 unique visitors, including more than 3,000 students through school field trips alone, visited the barge between 2007 and 2008.
The success of the Science Barge within NYC's education community led to a push to implement similar facilities and education programming directly at school sites. The Greenhouse Project's flagship facility, The Sun Works Center for Environmental Studies, opened earlier this year at P.S. 333 Manhattan School for Children. While the 1,500 square foot facility is first and foremost a classroom, farm and laboratory for the students of P.S. 333, the Center is also crucial for research and further development of the initiative. The Sun Works Center serves as a training ground for farmers and greenhouse technicians, and will be used this fall as a site for teachers throughout the city to engage in Department of Education certified science and sustainability professional development courses. We will also begin implementing assessment tools for measuring student outcomes at P.S. 333 at the start of the school year.
As we plan for the next stages of the initiative it is crucial that we assess the effectiveness of our programming in improving science and sustainability literacy among K-12 youth, as well as the structural ability of our rooftop greenhouses to conserve energy, offset heat island effects in school buildings, mitigate CSOs, and provide small yet efficient supplies of locally grown, pesticide-free vegetables to urban communities. Through these efforts we will be better able to scale the building model to each unique partner community within the city, and provide partnership and assistance to similar groups working to “green” NYC through policy benchmarking, building-integrated agriculture, and public education.
Our second greenhouse classroom at P.S. 89 Cypress Hills Community School in East New York celebrated its first harvest in June, and we have partnered with 10 additional NYC schools to bring The Greenhouse Project to their campuses. These partnerships will broaden the project scope to provide more than 5,000 public school students in grades K-12 with innovative STEM, sustainability, and horticulture education.
O que é inovador sobre a seu projeto? De que forma ele é uma nova contribuição para esse campo de atuação?
Through the incorporation of year round agricultural facilities into school communities we address a number of pressing and interrelated social issues: current nationwide deficiencies in STEM education and the growing global demand for a highly skilled STEM-field workforce, the absence of connectivity to and understanding of natural systems among urban youth, and the pressing need for responsible utilization of resources and development of green infrastructure, training, and public education in densely built urban areas.
The uniqueness of TGP lies in the year-round access the Greenhouse Project provides students to food-producing plant systems in conjunction with relevant curricula and classroom technologies. The strategic use of internet, data graphing systems, and video in tandem with the study and observation of plant systems is a 21st century model for developing critical thinking skills, science literacy, and for adequately preparing young people to actively and successfully engage in a rapidly changing world.
The opportunity for long-term stewardship of a small ecosystem is a significant form of empowerment, and helps develop well-rounded individuals who demonstrate empathy, self-confidence and respect for all life forms.
Conte-nos sobre a comunidade em que atua. Por exemplo, as condições econômicas, as estruturas políticas, normas e valores, as tendências demográficas, história e experiência com as tentativas de mobilização.
We are committed to engaging diverse communities, political leaders, and synergistic organizations throughout all five boroughs of the city.
The Science Barge project successfully engaged over 20,000 unique visitors, as well as over 3,000 school children from NYC, Westchester County, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The project brought renewed attention to the rich history of NYC's waterways, offered professional development series to over 100 teachers, and trained and employed 14 high school interns. The barge is now operated by Groundwork Hudson Valley, an environmental justice nonprofit located 8 miles north of Manhattan near the Yonkers pier. In addition to the support the project brings to Groundwork Hudson Valley, the project has created additional educational programming and economic development opportunities in Yonkers, and has awakened an interest in Yonkers for sustainability and green design.
The Greenhouse Project at P.S. 333 Manhattan School for Children (MSC) reaches a body of roughly 700 K-8 students on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The school is dedicated to progressive, child-centered education and to serving children with diverse needs and abilities. MSC’s guiding philosophy is that children learn by doing—by handling materials, exploring environments, and conducting experiments. MSC serves a population of special learners through a special Tweed initiative and there are generally — though not always — two Immersion classes, also referred to as inclusion classes or CTT (collaborative team teaching), per grade. The school is also committed to children who participate in the No Child Left Behind program and approximately 20 children per year enter MSC through that program. MSC is an empowerment school and a mentor for the New York City Department of Education’s collaborative community.
The Greenhouse Project at P.S.89 Cypress Hills Community School was developed in partnership with the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation (CHLDC), a 28-year old holistic community development organization based in the Cypress Hills/East New York section of Brooklyn. P.S. 89 is an 11-year old K-8 school that features a dual-language curriculum (all students learn their subjects in both English and Spanish) and emphasizes collaboration among students' families and community. At P.S. 89 parents are actively involved in all levels of decision-making, and serve alongside teachers as co-directors of the school. Last fall, after a decade-long struggle, the Cypress Hills Community School moved into their new permanent facility, designed and developed by CHLDC and the NYC School Construction Authority. It is the first “green” public school in Brooklyn.
The greenhouse at P.S. 89 will support access to a local and sustainable source of healthy foods to the East New York community, an area that has been labeled by many food security advocates as a "food desert", indicating that access to fresh, affordable produce is severely limited. NYSW’s integrated curriculum will connect hands-on science, nutrition, and climate change lessons in the greenhouse to the distribution of the greenhouse’s vegetables in the school cafeteria, creating an educational loop that will strengthen community values and boost students’ interest and skills in science, nutrition, and sustainability.
We will continue to develop Greenhouse Projects in diverse communities throughout NYC. In addition to partnering with schools throughout the city we are currently developing a second project with the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation to install temporary hydroponic greenhouses on empty brownfield lots in East New York. The greenhouses will provide jobs, internships, sustainability education, and fresh, healthy food to local residents, and contribute to a growing number of efforts to revitalize the approximately 7,000 acres of brownfields in New York City.
Compartilhe a história do(a) fundador(a) e o que o(a) inspirou a iniciar este projeto
NY Sun Works was founded by Dr. Ted Caplow in 2004 as a nonprofit organization that builds sustainable ecological systems for the production of clean water, energy, and food. Dr. Caplow developed the Science Barge, NYC's first urban floating farm, envisioning it as an ecologically integrated production system and an education center to encourage scientific literacy and ecological awareness among New Yorkers. Over 20K students and educators attended programming at the Barge over a three year period. Due to the success of the barge, NYSW decided to move into the schools to provide students with a consistent-year round exposure to innovative STEM programming through the lens of Urban Agriculture.
The flagship education center of the Greenhouse Project, the Sun Works center located at the Manhattan School for Children, was led by two parents-recent emigres from Bolivia and Demark- who, after visiting the Science Barge,were inspired to integrate the concepts and model of the Science barge. The parents led the charge, over two years to build the capacity-financial, political, and technical-to bring the Greenhouse Project to life on the rooftop of the Manhattan School for Children. This program has radically transformed the school, and is inspiring parents and schools from throughout the five boroughs around the role STEM education plays in sustainability.