March 25, 2021
NY Sun Works Provides 12,000 NYC Students With Home Hydroponic STEM Kits, Supporting STEM Learning, Social-Emotional Well-Being During COVID
NY Sun Works has provided 12,000 Home Hydroponic STEM Kits to NYC public schools this school year, supporting hands-on STEM education for K-12th grade students during remote and blended learning. The demand for kits far exceeded the initial expectation of 2,000 orders, showing the strong need for hands-on learning resources during the pandemic.
Shared one elementary school student from Queens, “When I get a hydroponics kit and become a farmer scientist I will be feeling excited because it’s been so long since I’ve done science. I think I will learn a lot about plants and what they need to grow.”
The kits were designed to engage students on science and sustainability concepts that they would otherwise learn at school. With teacher guidance and the kit-specific science lessons developed by NY Sun Works, students have been able to grow, study, and run investigations from home with edible plants as well as practice their observation, data collection, and other critical STEM skills.
Recognizing the anxiety COVID has triggered for many students – in particular for students in communities hit hardest by the pandemic – the hydroponic kit lessons also incorporate activities to foster social-emotional well-being. In addition to science lessons, students are tasked with observing and tending to their plants to help create a stabilizing daily routine and they regularly share their progress and challenges with classmates and teachers as a means to encourage conversation, collaboration, and curiosity. One teacher shared that the kits and curriculum have been a lifesaver, bringing joy and something to look forward to each day for students that have been struggling with remote learning and being stuck at home.
The kits are part of our larger efforts to address education needs emerging under COVID. Since the pandemic began, the organization has implemented several new initiatives to support teachers and students, including creating more than 3 months of weekly ready-to-use K-8th grade remote STEM learning modules for teachers in our partner public schools; developing over 50 Let’s Investigate science videos with experiments that students can conduct at home; and converting several of our Greenhouse Classrooms to indoor farms to provide produce for the school community and local food pantries.
NY Sun Works provided 4,000 of the kits at no cost to public schools that need financial support due to COVID-related budget cuts. Says Manuela Zamora, Executive Director of NY Sun Works, “NY Sun Works continues to innovate in the field of education while preparing youth for the challenges of the 21st century. Now more than ever, we are committed to providing quality science education regardless of student zip code or school budget.”