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Our Story

NY Sun Works is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to bringing quality sustainability science and climate education to K-12 city schools. Through our Hydroponic Classrooms, we provide hands-on learning experiences that foster scientific inquiry and environmental stewardship. NY Sun Works’ curriculum transforms students into Farmer Scientists, introducing them to the idea of farming as a science subject. Our innovative approach allows students to grow food from seed-to-harvest, understanding the connection between humans, technology, and the environment and their direct relationship to climate change — all while growing hundreds of pounds of fresh produce to share with their families and school communities.

Our programming uses a variety of cutting-edge hydroponic systems and supporting technologies to cultivate student engagement while fostering curiosity, creativity, and a sense of scientific inquiry. While the growing starts at the seedling station, students also learn about the intricate science of composting, the nuances of integrated pest management techniques, and more advanced hydroculture practices including aquaponic farming.

Our goal is to integrate these systems into the school day, fostering deeper connections with nature and a sense of joy in the learning process. This empowers students to seek solutions to environmental challenges and equips them with the tools to address climate challenges.

NY Sun Works serves a diverse population of students primarily across the five boroughs of New York City — 39% Hispanic, 19% Black, 21% Asian, and 17% White. With over 72% of our students’ families residing below the poverty level, we focus on bringing our programming to under-resourced communities. Our Hydroponic Classroom programming is accessible to all types of learners, including those who require special accommodations, and is designed to be inclusive and culturally responsive.

We have built more than 300 state-of-the-art Hydroponic Classrooms, positively impacting over 120,000 students annually. Our year-round K-12 curriculum is thoughtfully tailored to each grade level, aligned to Next Generation Science Standards, and supported by our comprehensive teacher training and mentoring that ensure long-term program success.

Mission Statement

NY Sun Works provides sustainability science and climate education, engaging students as hands-on participants in solving global environmental challenges.


Our Achievements and Impact

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Our History

a glass greenhouse with green plants inside floats on a barge at night with the sunset and nyc in the backgroundIn 2004, Dr. Ted Caplow founded NY Sun Works and introduced the Science Barge: a floating, sustainable urban farm powered by renewable energy sources and irrigated by rainwater. This landmark program inspired the launch of our Hydroponic Classrooms initiative in 2008, which was a collaborative effort co-created by Manuela Zamora and Sidsel Robards. Together, they passionately pioneered the teaching of sustainability science and climate education through the tool of hydroponic farming.

NY Sun Works has come a long way since opening the first rooftop greenhouse on a NYC public school in 2010 at PS 333. We soon recognized that many schools who could greatly benefit from our programming lacked the necessary space and resources for such greenhouse structures. Over the past decade we’ve evolved our approach to transform existing classrooms into indoor Hydroponic Classrooms, enabling us to partner with more than 300 schools — over 15% of all NYC public schools.

We continue to innovate, adapt, and grow to meet the changing climate challenges facing us today. During the pandemic, we responded by introducing home STEM Hydroponic Kits and developed a remote K-12 curriculum, allowing students to extend their learning beyond the confines of our Hydroponic Classrooms. These kits have evolved into a versatile, affordable solution, providing sustainability science education in a compact, portable format. Additionally, in 2022, we launched our Urban Agriculture Workforce Development Program. This initiative, piloted with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, equips students with technical skills, environmental science knowledge, and workforce readiness training while creating pathways for high school graduates to participate in NYC’s green economy.


Join Our Mission to Grow Tomorrow’s Climate Leaders.