ASTORIA – A new hydroponic science lab is officially open at P.S. 85 Queens- The Judge Charles J. Vallone School- as educators, elected officials, leadership from the New York Power Authority, and the team at New York Sun Works unveiled the state-of-the-art educational tool on March 10.
“I am so happy that the hydroponic science lab at P.S. 85 — The Judge Charles J. Vallone School — will give our students the hands-on lessons they deserve to learn and grow,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. “Western Queens students will be prepared for jobs of the 21st Century thanks to the investments and partnerships we’ve made in the last few years.”
Constantinides was joined by Lisa Payne Wansley, the New York Power Authority’s vice president of Environmental Justice and Sustainability; Principal Ann Gordan-Chang, along with faculty and staff at P.S. 85 Queens — The Judge Charles J. Vallone School; and Manuela Zamora, executive director of New York Sun Works, and staff.
“The New York Power Authority is proud to support this new STEM resource for youngsters who understand the importance of being environmentally responsible,” said NYPA president and CEO Gil C. Quiniones. “Students will have the opportunity to increase their awareness of technology and innovation, and learn skills that could lead to future career opportunities.”
“Green classrooms are a great way to spark an interest, inspire confidence in students, and help them learn about the wonders of energy and sustainability in fun and creative ways,” said Lisa Payne Wansley, NYPA’s vice president of Environmental Justice and Sustainability.
While emphasizing the value of a true partnership, Manuela Zamora, Executive Director of NY Sun Works added, “We are honored to work with Principal Gordon-Chang and her team at P.S. 85 in their vision to bring 21st century science and sustainability education into the classroom. The hydroponic lab 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.”
"The students and the PS 85 school community have been blessed with a hydroponics lab which will give them real life science experiences," added Principal Gordon-Chang.
Constantinides secured the funding to build the lab under the Fiscal Year 2019 budget, as part of a raft of schools to receive the facilities. Hydroponic science labs allow students to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs with a limited amount of soil and mineral solutions right in their schools. These cost-effective facilities give them a hands-on lesson in biology, engineering, agriculture, and technology.
NYPA’s participation comes through its Environmental Justice STEM program, which provides educational resources to students from underrepresented communities in close proximity to NYPA’s power assets statewide as part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s STEM learning initiative. Funding allows for a year-round collaboration with NY Sun Works, which provides weekly on-site mentoring and training for teachers, specialized curriculum, greenhouse grow supplies and community engagement support.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on three additional committees: Sanitation, Resiliency, and Technology. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.
About the Judge Charles J. Vallone School
The Judge Charles J. Vallone School is a PreK-5 elementary school that offers Pre-K for All, general education, special education and gifted and talented classes for children. Their mission is to create a nurturing environment, which fosters academic and social achievement for all students. They acknowledge the uniqueness of every child within our school community by encouraging self-respect and respect for all. Their school infuses technology and the arts in engaging all students in their learning. Excellence is their aim as they strive toward developing the foundational skills needed to produce well-rounded, life-long learners that aim towards college and career readiness.
About NY Sun Works
NY Sun Works is a not-for-profit organization that builds hydroponics science labs in NYC public schools. Through the Greenhouse Project Initiative, NY Sun Works brings hands-on and project-based education to teach students about the science of sustainability while growing food year round in the classroom. NY Sun Works envisions a generation of environmental innovators empowered to create solutions for global resource challenges. www.nysunworks.org.