In 2004 Dr Ted Caplow founded New York Sun Works and created the Science Barge; a floating, sustainable urban farm located on the Hudson River. It was the first demonstration of a high-yield, commercial-grade urban food production facility which was powered by wind and solar energy, heated with vegetable oil, and irrigated by rainwater.
Inspired by The Science Barge, The Greenhouse Project was started in 2008 by a small group of public school educators and parents, led by project co-founders Sidsel Robards and Manuela Zamora. Concerned about the inadequacies of environmental science education within NYC’s public school system, they partnered with NY Sun Works to create an innovative new approach to science learning. This would become The Greenhouse Project, an in-school hydroponic greenhouse classroom, where students could learn the mandated science curriculum in a hands-on, experiential way while growing nutritious vegetables and herbs to share with their school community and families.
The first Greenhouse Classroom (GHC) opened in 2010 at PS 333 in Manhattan. The success of the GHC, as a way to teach science and empower students to make educated choices about their impact on the environment, spurred demand for the program in public schools across the five boroughs of NYC and northern NJ. Ten years later, in 2020, we reached the milestone of 170 schools, 10% of all NYC public schools — the largest school system in the country!
Moving now into our second decade, we’re continuing to innovate and grow. In response to the COVID pandemic, we’ve created Home Hydroponic Kits for our students and teachers to facilitate hands-on science learning from home – delivering 12,500 kits in the 2020-21 school year! We launched a fully-remote K-12th grade curriculum to support blended learning, and converted many of our labs to full indoor farms, providing much-needed produce for school communities and local food pantries to alleviate food insecurity during the pandemic.
We’re launching a new high school certification program for hydroponic farming in September 2021, helping to prepare students to work in a growing and sustainable urban industry. And we’re continuing to grow our hydroponic STEM program – building labs at 60 more schools in 2021!
To learn more about our programs and how you can bring a lab to your school, contact us.
“This cutting edge initiative takes a hands-on approach to teaching the next generation critical issues of environmental sustainability, and is a very smart investment in the future.”
—Ashok Gupta, Director of Energy Policy, NRDC on The Greenhouse Project
The Science Barge Sails On…
The ownership of the Science Barge program has been assumed by Groundwork Hudson Valley, located in Yonkers, NY.
In 2016 Dr. Ted Caplow opened the Miami Science Barge, a floating marine laboratory and public environmental education center that catalyzes the local effort to build a sustainable Miami. Located on Biscayne Bay, in Miami, FL, the Barge hosts a variety of living systems and marine experiments that display cutting-edge science and engage the public with their environment.
The Miami Science Barge is now part of the the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, serving as a natural extension of the topics and learning opportunities offered by the museum’s Aquarium and science exhibitions. On board the barge, visitors will participate in active investigations into the surrounding marine life—from plankton to fish—while having a front-row view of the manatee families, dolphins and sea birds that sometimes visit the area. As a major focal point for STEM education, the barge will also be a part of the museum’s citizen science (or crowd-sourced science)program, which offers the community an opportunity to connect with ongoing research projects and the work of scientists.
“The Science Barge is a metaphor for us and for the future of this planet. We can float together, or we’ll surely sink together.”
—New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe
“Incorporating the Science Barge with the museum further amplifies the mission of Frost Science. We are educators, always looking for new and innovative ways for our students to learn.”
—Frank Steslow, President of Frost Science