New green classroom brings hydroponic lab to The Bilingual School in the South Bronx

NYPA President Justin Driscoll visits with students of PS 25 in the South Bronx.
Photo courtesy New York Power Authority

The first of four new green classrooms coming to the Bronx was officially launched on Monday with a ribbon-cutting at PS 25 The Bilingual School on 149th Street.

The hydroponic lab, which grows crops indoors without soil, will teach students agricultural skills, environmental science and other sustainability-based programming. Supported by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), the program educates young people about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics and is geared to inspire them to develop an interest in and understanding of the environment and sustainable food production.

“Students learn valuable life skills when they have hands-on experience with urban farming,”said Justin Driscoll, NYPA president and CEO. “They see the rewards that come from planting and harvesting healthy foods in a way that protects the environment. These young people are our future, which is why the Power Authority is so pleased to support programs that engage them in the latest technologies to grow food locally in their own communities. Promoting their curiosity and confidence in endeavors that protect our natural resources will help us all build a more sustainable future.”

NYPA will fund operations and maintenance of the lab for three years, including teacher training, student and parent engagement, curriculum and research support.

The first of four new green classrooms in the Bronx was launched on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the PS 25. Photo courtesy New York Power Authority

The Bilingual School is making the classroom part of its science curriculum for students across grades Kindergarten through sixth grade. More than a dozen students showed off crops Monday that they had grown from seeds as they harvested lettuce and herbs with their fellow students and families. They led tours of the hydroponic systems made up of seeding stations, a tower garden, hanging vines and a composting station, and offered samples of the produce.

“On October 30, we celebrate a significant milestone in the history of PS 25, The Bilingual School, as we inaugurate our hydroponic garden, a symbol of progress and the start of a transformative journey toward a healthier and brighter future for our school and community,” said Principal Raquel Pevey.

The program is one of four new Bronx labs the Power Authority will be supporting in 2024. The three others are PS/MS031, PSX017 and Jill Chaifetz Transfer High School, all in the South Bronx.

The learning lab at The Bilingual School is part of NYPA’s Environmental Justice program, which provides educational resources to students living in underserved communities that host the Power Authority’s facilities statewide. NYPA has funded 33 green classrooms and community laboratories in New York City in recent years while working with New York Sun Works, a non-profit organization that uses hydroponic technology, to educate young people in STEM and provide curriculum, training and community engagement support. The average New York Sun Works hydroponic classroom produces more than 500 pounds of vegetables per school year.

“We’re excited to celebrate the official opening of this hydroponic classroom that will bring state-of-the-art science, sustainability and climate education to PS 25 The Bilingual School,” said Manuela Zamora, executive director, NY Sun Works.“These labs are a place of growth: of lettuce, kale, and tomatoes, but also of curiosity, confidence, and empowerment as students grow their sense of what they can achieve, as scientists, researchers, and farmers. We’re honored to work with our funding partners at NYPA and Councilwoman Diana Ayala to bring this program to this school and to help ensure students have the education they need for the future they deserve.”

The hydroponic classroom installation was funded through a generous capital grant from Council Member Diana Ayala.

“Providing children with the knowledge that even at a young age they can help meet the challenges of overcoming climate change is very empowering,” said Ayala.  “To be able to learn that through their work and experience in this classroom will inspire them to be the leaders for positive change we know they can be.”

More information about NYPA’s Environmental Justice programming can be found on the Environmental Justice web page on NYPA’s website.

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