“We received a Capital Fund Grant from the mayors office to convert our old library into a hydroponics lab. NY Sunworks supplied the lab equipment and helps with general maintenance. I run an after school Green Team where students learn about hydroponics and harness the skills to run the lab. In the Spring, after AP exams are over, my AP Environmental Science class gets hands on experience in the lab by learning how to start seeds, transplant seedlings and harvest the vegetables that they grow. It’s been integrated into our AP Environmental Science curriculum and we’re partnering with the hydroponics program at Brooklyn Public Library. Students grow and sell vegetables at student run farm stands to raise money for gardening supplies and future projects, and our cafeteria uses the food to serve to students. We’ve also partnered with a cooking class that takes place at our campus where teachers and students cook with the food we grow. Our hydroponics program also exists at the middle school level. Students who start at our middle school and continue on to high school build upon what they’ve learned in lower grades.
The hydroponics lab at UAI has been developing a visual arts unit aimed at creating a physical and digital library of the plants that are grown throughout the year. The project involves the use of photographic strobes paired with students’ cellphones to create images of plants that then get converted into negative transparencies. The transparencies are then placed on top of cyanotype paper/cloth and exposed to light from the NFT systems in the lab. The result is a physical print of the plant which may be used by current and incoming students for research purposes. The entire process utilizes every part of the lab; from the plants to the lights to the water used throughout the systems. The science of the cyanotype process and how light reacts with photo-sensative emulsions provides students with valuable lessons in chemistry, botany and the history of camera-less photographic art as a method of preservation. As the project grows, the documentation of our efforts in the lab will be used to make scientific observations and provide insight for future farming endeavors.”
- Tom Wilson, AP Environmental Science & Chemistry teacher at K527 Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women