By Bill Parry
PS 122 became the first public school to open a hydroponic science lab in Astoria last Friday.
The labs were constructed in one elementary classroom and one middle-school classroom at PS 122 using a $160,000 allocation from City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) as part of his Science 20150 Budget Initiative initiative to improve science learning spaces in his district.
“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,” Constantinides said. “These types of multifaceted science learning experiences will give students academic benefits in a variety of subject matters. Giving children the tools they need for the 21st century academic experience will ensure that they become our future leaders.”
The hydroponic science labs were built with plants and equipment that use water and other mediums for plant growth, providing hands-on education to students in many subjects including biology, agriculture, sustainability, technology and nutrition.
“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,” PS 122 Principal Anna Aprea said. “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.”
Constantinides has continued to make investments in science learning spaces a priority by securing over $3 million in the past budget cycle for hydroponic science labs at different schools, STEM lab updates, solar panels, technology upgrades and other facility upgrades.
Meanwhile, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) announced $105,000 in state funding for much-needed capital improvement projects for the Steinway Intermediate School 141Q located on 21st Avenue.
“Students are the present and future of our communities, and this is why we must ensure we provide them with the best possible learning environment,” Peralta said. “It is crucial that students attend class in a comfortable and dynamic setting.”
The proposal includes leveling the 38th Street side of the school building to construct a garden, installing security cameras and renovating one of the two bathrooms at the main entrance of the school.
“The renovation and installation of a gender neutral restroom for students in our building will further our mission to maintain a school culture that respects and values all students and fosters understanding of gender identity within our school community,” IS 141 Principal Miranda Pavlou said. “Each year we take great pride in beautifying our physical environment in order for our school community and the greater Astoria community at-large to enjoy our beautiful gardens in the front and rear of our building.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr