The Council of the City of New York
Office of Costa Constantinides
For Immediate Release
December 8, 2017
Contact: Shachar Sharon
Constantinides, School Officials Open First Hydroponic Science Labs in District
Lab is First Completed Part of Councilman’s Science 2050 Budget Initiative
Astoria, N.Y. – As part of New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides’ initiative to invest in science learning spaces, he and school officials today celebrated the opening of the first hydroponic science lab in the district. He joined NY Sun Works Executive Director Manuela Zamora, NYC Department of Education District 30 Superintendent Dr. Philip Composto, PS 122 Principal Anna Aprea, teachers, and students for a ribbon cutting celebration.
Labs were constructed in one elementary and one middle school classroom at PS 122 using a $160,000 allocation from Constantinides as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget. Constantinides allocated almost $2 million of funding in that budget to schools throughout the district as part of his Science 2050 Budget Initiative to improve science learning spaces. He invested in hydroponic science labs, STEM labs, and technology upgrades. These investments were made to ensure that children have the tools they need to learn so that they can improve our community in the future.
Construction on the hydroponic science labs at PS 122 took place over the 2017 summer break and instruction began in September. Plants and equipment that use water and other mediums for plant growth were installed in the classrooms. Hydroponics uses a mineral-based nutrient solution to grow plants without soil and 80% less water than conventional techniques. The labs at PS 122 include hydroponic growing systems, composting, a germination rack, and a pest-management system that uses ladybugs to protect plants rather than pesticides.
These labs provide hands-on education to students in many subjects including biology, agriculture, sustainability, technology, and nutrition. Students learn about environmental innovation and global resources.
Faculty members are trained to integrate the labs into the school’s curricula. The School Construction Authority worked with NY Sun Works to implement the lab and train faculty.
Constantinides said, “We are proud to kick off our Science 2050 Budget Initiative with this opening. With these innovative learning spaces, children have the opportunity to interact with plants, study the biology of how they grow, and receive meaningful lessons in ecology and agriculture. These types of multi-faceted science learning experiences will give students academic benefits in a variety of subject matters. Giving children have the tools they need for a 21st Century academic experience will ensure that they can become our future leaders. Thank you to PS 122, NY Sun Works, and the School Construction Authority for your partnership in important initiative.”
“We are thrilled to partner with visionary Councilmember Constantinides,” said Manuela Zamora, NYSW Executive Director. “The NY Sun Works Greenhouse Project Labs address the needs of the 21st Century. In these classrooms, students learn about the science of sustainability while growing food with cutting edge hydroponic technology.”
“PS 122 is very excited to open up the hydroponics lab to our students. The PS 122 teachers in the science labs report that students living in an urban environment often have little connection to nature and where food comes from. By bringing what is typically outdoors inside the classroom, we hope to connect our students to the greater environment. Ultimately, we hope to build on the natural curiosity of the students to provide an elevated set of skills, a broader perspective on the issues facing our communities, and to foster environmental leadership,” said PS 122 Principal Anna Aprea.
“We are grateful to Council Member Constantinides for his generous funding and support,” said Lorraine Grillo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City School Construction Authority. “Thanks to our strong partnerships with local leaders, PS 122 students and families will now have access to a state-of-the-art hydroponic science lab.”
Constantinides has continued to make investments in science learning spaces a priority. During this past budget cycle, he secured over $3 million for hydroponic science labs at different schools, STEM lab updates, solar panels, technology upgrades, and other facilities updates.
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 the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on six additional committees: Civil Service & Labor, Contracts, Cultural Affairs, Oversight & Investigations, Sanitation, and Transportation. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.