Blog

NY Sun Works Hosts Summer ASPDP Course “Energy, Water and Waste” Online

On July 20, NY Sun Works began the summer session of our 45-hour ASPDP course, “Energy, Water and Waste: Integrating Themes of Sustainability Into Your Classroom” with a cohort of 25 teachers coming from all five boroughs. Taught by Shakira Provasoli of PS 333 Manhattan School for Children, the course on simple sustainability with students offers preK-8th grade teachers the unique opportunity to delve deeper into global environmental issues on a local level. Normally situated within the setting of a sustainable hydroponic greenhouse, this course allows teachers to learn more about current environmental concerns and social justice through a blend of technology, discussion, and hands-on projects. In addition, guest speakers, informative tours, videos and educational games offer a holistic approach to learning about real world environmental problems and how they affect different cultures, especially in terms of environmental racism. This past spring, NYSW introduced an entire new section of readings in the course packet, focused on ways to explore the topics of Energy, Water, and Waste while decentering whiteness and amplifying nonwhite voices and perspectives, with the hope that teachers can further model this approach in their own classrooms. Read »

Partnership with MBP Brewer to Provide Fresh Vegetables to Covid-19 Food Insecure

In an exciting new program, NY Sun Works is partnering with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to grow vegetables in its flagship greenhouse at PS 333 to provide fresh vegetables to community members in need of food, a population that has grown significantly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  Fresh lettuce and other vegetables will be distributed through food pantries and other outlets to help address food insecurity in the city.

Survey for parents, teachers, and principals: our blended learning offerings for next school year

Thinking ahead to September, NY Sun Works will be updating and adding to our current remote learning resources. Additional lessons adapted for google class for grades K-8 and new offerings for high school will help support a highly possible blended learning scenario.

We’d love to hear from you! To improve our offerings for next school year, please complete this survey. Parents, teachers, and principals are all encouraged to share their feedback.

Take the Survey here.

NY Sun Works’s own Shakira Provasoli, PS 333 Greenhouse Teacher, published an article in Green Teacher Magazine:

“My intent in the article was to share all the innovative ways that NY Sun Works has adapted to both remote learning and the needs of their teachers. It is important for educators across the country to hear about the creative hands-on and technology-based lessons that all of the staff at NY Sun Works have worked hard to bring to their partner schools. Hopefully all teachers will be inspired to introduce more aspects of sustainability and/or hydroponics into their classrooms, and perhaps they will attempt to recreate the unique at-home kits.”

2020 Summer Builds

While projects funded by the city government (capital funding) remain paused due to Covid-19, NY Sun Works has been busy preparing for the installations of labs at other schools that have grant or school funding.  New partner schools that will be opening labs in September include PS 481 The STEAM Bridge School in the Bronx, The Brooklyn Urban Garden Charter School (BUGS) in Brooklyn and the East Orange STEM Academy in New Jersey.  We are excited to welcome these and other schools into the NY Sun Works program, and we eagerly await the re-opening of construction so that we can begin installation on the more than 30 new labs that are planned to be built with capital funding. 

Greenhouse Project Co-Founder Sidsel Robards Shifts from Director of Development to Strategic Planning Role on Board of Directors

Press Release

New Leadership Structure at New York Sun Works

Sidsel Robards departs after a decade as co-director, to take on a strategic role; Manuela Zamora remains as Executive Director. Growth continues to accelerate at the leading K-12 specialty science education provider. 

New York City, August 2nd, 2020. New York Sun Works (NYSW) today announced that Sidsel Robards, one of the founders of the company’s core Greenhouse Project program, has moved out of daily operations and into a strategic role.

Since 2008, Robards has been at the heart of New York Sun Works’ campaign to build greenhouse science classrooms in New York City public schools. Merging science, sustainability, and hydroponic food production, over 130 of the laboratories have been built to date across all five boroughs of the city, and the pace continues to accelerate as demand for NYSW’s equipment, teacher training, and comprehensive K-12 curriculum remains strong. As a co-founder of the Greenhouse Project, Robards worked with education authorities, teachers, and administrators over many years to secure the multitude of individual school partnerships that have proven critical to the organization’s mission. Read »

NY Power Authority VP – Environmental Justice and Sustainability Lisa Payne Wansley On The Importance of Education to Combat Injustice

“In a world where we struggle to fight for equity for all, NYPA and NY Sun Works are united in the fundamental belief that education is the key to providing all students with a bright future. We must invest in all students to give them the educational foundation that they rightfully deserve. We must also provide them with hands-on learning opportunities that teach classroom as well as life skills, and green-classrooms are a fine example of that.”

Preparing for September: Blended Learning, Safety Protocols in the Greenhouse Classroom, Supporting Farmer Scientists and the Community

Our NYC teachers did incredible work to move students to remote learning following the closure of schools in March. To help teachers continue the science and sustainability education taking place in their hydroponic classrooms, NY Sun Works updated the online Learning Center to help teachers adjust to the new reality. While we cannot yet predict what September will look like, NY Sun Works will continue to support our teachers and is already preparing for a range of possibilities. 

Distance Learning Support and Resources

Thinking ahead to September, NY Sun Works will be updating and adding to our current remote learning resources. Additional lessons adapted for google class for K-8 and new offerings for high school will help support a highly possible blended learning scenario. Lessons will be available in google slides and will include resources such as NYSW reports (which will also be available in Spanish), recorded videos, as well as individual and small group work options. We will be expanding the NYSW Let’s Investigate video series which brings some of our hands-on science lessons home and features members of the Greenhouse Support Team. These videos will also be embedded into lessons. Finally, NYSW is in the process of developing a Hydroponics at Home student kit that will include hydroponic essentials such seeds and growing substrates. These new kits will allow students to engage in hands-on learning at home. 

We’d love to hear from you! To improve our offerings for next school year, please complete this survey. Parents, teachers, and principals are all encouraged to share their feedback.  Read »

Equitable Access to Innovative STEM Education: NY Sun Works Answers the Call

Dear Friends:

It’s hard to believe I’m writing to you in mid-June, as we wrap up a school year like no other and our third month of quarantine.  The 90 days since mid-March have passed in the blink of an eye but also feel like an eon, one in which lifetimes of inequities and vulnerabilities have been brought into stark and painful relief.  

For many of the students we serve, these inequities are their daily reality.  They live in the communities hardest hit medically and economically by COVID-19.  Many rely on school not just for education and stabilizing routines but for basics like meals and laundry.  And many also contend daily with the fears, for themselves and their loved ones, of fundamental physical safety and freedoms because of the color of their skin.  It brings to the fore the vital role of education in helping students prepare for and heal from these challenges, whether medical, environmental, or societal. 

Yet, as I reflect on these sobering realities, I also find much to be inspired by.  Scientists collaborating across the globe to develop a vaccine more quickly.  Medical professionals leaving their communities to go where they were needed most.  The dedication of teachers and administrators to keep education going, even under such challenging, never-anticipated circumstances.  

Within our diverse NY Sun Works community, so much has been achieved. Here are some of the highlights: since mid-August, we’ve added 33 new labs to city public schools and trained over 100 new teachers in hydroponics and our sustainability science curriculum.  At our Youth Conference in May, students showed us their innovative and creative best, collaborating remotely when necessary to complete their research and bringing fresh ideas to environmental challenges.  We launched a new middle school curriculum and, beginning in mid-March, we transformed our 45-hour credit course into an online program once quarantine began.  Additionally, our Curriculum and Greenhouse Support Teams created over 40 remote learning lessons and investigative projects, supporting students and teachers as they scrambled to adjust to this new reality.  Through these initiatives, we continued to provide equitable access to innovative STEM education. 

This summer, we’ll be installing hydroponic labs in 40 more schools across the city, many in historically underserved communities. Our Program Development team is working hard behind the scenes to make sure that whenever schools reopen, the labs are ready so that kids will have the opportunity to learn hands-on science, grow healthy food, and explore the importance of urban agriculture.  Regardless of whether schools reopen, many of our labs will be operating as indoor farms to provide fresh produce to the local community.  And, for as long as schools are closed, we’ll continue to create our remote sustainability science lessons, because teachers and students need our support and science is more important than ever.

From all of us at NY Sun Works, we extend our deep thanks to teachers, administrators, and school staff for all you do every day to support New York’s students and to our generous supporters for making our work possible.  To everyone, we wish you and your loved ones a healthy and safe summer.  


Manuela and the NYSW team

A Message from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to Students and Teachers

“This is a tough time in New York’s history.  But today I’m feeling hope for our city after watching the incredible student scientists share their hard work [and] innovative research projects that will help New York be greener and healthier in the long term. […]  I celebrate the teachers who are inspiring these students to continue their exploration and guide them through their learning.  Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that our students understand science, as well as how to improve their health with a good diet of fruits and vegetables. I stand with you in the fight for a healthy future.”