Since taking office in 2013, Councilman Costa Constantinides has worked on increasing access to Astoria’s East River waterfront, which had been closed off to the public for decades, and making children aware of the importance of environmental science.
Now Constantinides is teaming with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Astoria Houses Tenant Association to launch the BioBus program near Halletts Cove. The mobile science lab will provide matriculated students of all ages with free marine educational programming and training to prepare for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“BioBus is an amazing program that exposes New York City students of all ages to the wonders of science,” Constantinides said. “Too often, children sadly don’t have a connection with or understanding of nature, and even ecology within a city, which is what BioBus aims to change. Just as important, these students see firsthand that they can one day have careers in the field and become tomorrow’s innovators. I’m so happy to partner with the EDC and BioBus to bring this service to the Astoria Houses this summer.”
The state-of-the-art BioBus mobile lab is equipped with advanced research microscopes and is staffed with scientists who will train students how to conduct research projects that focus on marine ecology of Halletts Cove Park. The program will be open to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays and will be near the Astoria Houses Community Center located at 4-5 Astoria Blvd. until Aug. 13.
“The innovative BioBus program helps to spread awareness of our important marine environment,” said James Patchett, president and CEO of NYCEDC. “We are excited to partner with BioBus to achieve a mutual goal of providing a diverse range of students with quality programming to prepare them for STEM careers.”
BioBus is an internship partner of NYCEDC’s LifeSci NYC initiative, a $500 million commitment to establish New York City as a global leader in life sciences R&D and innovation, spurring an estimated 16,000 jobs and creating up to nearly 3 million square feet of new space for life science companies and researchers.
“New York’s waterfront has been greatly restored in the last decades, going from hazardous to healthy with flourishing flora and fauna,” said Millie Thurman, chief scientist for BioBus. “Working with residents, we expect to find species of plants and animals in Halletts Cove that haven’t been commonly observed for more than 50 years, as we have been finding on the Lower East Side.”
Since 2008, nearly 250,000 students from more than 500 schools were able to explore scientific research through BioBus’ educational programming. Through the program, students have discovered the importance of scientific exploration and as a result may have continued to make progress on their scientific career paths.
“It’s amazing in these times to teach young people about the water, air and what it means to their health. Young people need to know more about this planet and what it means to their life,” said Claudia Coger, President of Astoria Houses Tenant Association. “I appreciate Council member Constantinides for moving forward with programs that support young people with education in our community. This is an enormous opportunity that may inspire the next generation of scientists or environmental advocates.”
To learn more about BioBus, visit biobus.org.