ASTORIA – New York Council Member Costa Constantinides and western Queens community leaders joined with BioBus on September 24 to announce the science education non-profit would set up a permanent installation at the NYCHA Astoria Houses.
Thursday's announcement represents years of partnership between BioBus and the Astoria Houses, where it has focused on connecting young people with the health of the neighboring East River. BioBus will be able to purchase a new mobile lab for the site thanks to a $304,000 allocation secured by Constantinides in this Fiscal Year's budget.
“BioBus has already been an amazing partner here in western Queens, to introduce more people to the wonders of science,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22. “I am so excited we can mark Climate Week by making BioBus a permanent fixture at the Astoria Houses. This will continue the Hallets Point peninsula's revolution into a leader on sustainability.”
"I am thrilled to bring a new BioBus lab to Astoria Houses, and grateful to Council Member Constantinides for providing crucial funding. While we're building, the entire community is invited and encouraged to join BioBus scientists online at www.biobus.org. We have weekly live Student Town Halls, recorded science challenges for students to do hands-on science at home, and Discover classes for school groups!" said Ben Dubin-Thaler, Executive Director and Founder, BioBus, Inc.
“I am so excited BioBus will become a permanent fixture at the Astoria Houses, where they have already established themselves as a community partner,” said Claudia Coger, President of the Astoria Houses Residents Association. “This permanent lab will introduce more children to the wonders of science and connect them with the East River.”
"I am glad that Biobus is coming to the Peninsula. It will be a unique learning experience that will give young people educational programming and exposure to careers in Science," said Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor, Ceo of Urban Upbound.
"Joining BioBus was a dream come true. I never knew science could be so interesting, and that science could connect to real life. I talked to many other students who were interested in BioBus, but lost interest as soon as they heard it was so far away. When they have access to BioBus in a close environment, they will become more engaged in science,” said Nicholas Bustamante, BioBus Junior Scientist intern, Freshman at Binghamton University, from Queens.
BioBus has in the last few years brought one of its mobile labs to the Astoria Houses and other western Queens locations, offering public events, classes for school groups, and after school classes. Students of all ages have been empowered to take science into their own hands, especially when it comes to the health of the East River. This has been a bridge in connecting Astoria Houses youth with the historically inaccessible waterway and the historically exclusive scientific community.
The new lab is to be set up permanently at the Astoria Houses and become a living classroom. BioBus plans to install a solar array on the lab, powering it exclusively with renewable energy. This will set a new example in western Queens, a neighborhood long blighted by dirty power plants.
BioBus' permanent installation reflects a strategic partnership with Constantinides' office to rethink science education. After years of working together in the neighborhood, with funding support from theCouncil Member, BioBus identified the community needs around science and developed programming around them.
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.