Dec. 19 By Michael Dorgan
Students and teachers at an Astoria elementary school celebrated the opening of the school’s brand new hydroponic lab at a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday.
P.S. 17 Henry David Thoreau, located at 28-37 29th St., became the fifth school to install a hydroponic lab as part of Council Member Costa Constantinides’ Science 2050 budget initiative.
The greenhouse classroom will give students the chance to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and sustainability topics while growing fruits, vegetables and herbs with cutting-edge hydroponic technology.
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil by instead using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. The labs provide students with 21st century skills and a new way of learning science.
“Hydroponic labs offer unparalleled hands-on lessons that open students up to the world of science,” Constantinides said.
“I am so thrilled to see the new lab at P.S. 17 Henry David Thoreau is already showing our students the wonders of growing their own food in innovative ways. I cannot wait until every school in our Council District has an operational facility by next fall,” he added.
The new lab was built by New York Sun Works, a non-profit organization that builds science labs in urban schools. Its science labs and urban farms operate as an integrated part of the school’s curriculum and aligns with the New York City and New York State science standards.
“We are honored to partner with Council Member Costa Constantinides and PS 17 to bring 21st century science and sustainability education into the classroom,” said Manuela Zamora, Executive Director of New York Sun Works.
“The New York Sun Works Hydroponics Labs will provide students with the opportunity to grow food while learning hands-on about science and climate education, as well as food justice and community service. Moreover, it will provide bountiful harvests of leafy greens for the greater school community.”
P.S. 17 Henry David Thoreau was one of six schools to receive a lab under that year’s budget along with Long Island City High School, P.S. 171, P.S. 85, Q300, and the Young Women’s Leadership School.
Several more labs are scheduled to open at western Queens schools next year.
Within the last few years Constantinides has been able to secure funds for a new hydroponic science or STEM lab at every school in his district.
The Council Member has made interactive learning integral to his $2 million Science 2050 budget initiative, which seeks to prepare western Queens students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Construction of the $160,000 science lab was funded through the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.