December 1, 2022
Teaching Sustainability Science in the Big City
Building state-of-the-art hydroponic farm classrooms in schools around NYC is a challenge, but ensuring the teachers therein feel continuously supported is equally important in delivering quality sustainability science & climate education. One of the ways we offer that support is through our NY Sun Works Education Team, which provides year-round curriculum training and support to teachers as they teach in their hydroponic classrooms. In addition, they also design and continue to expand upon our NY Sun Works curriculum, which is a standards-based, year-round curriculum designed to guide students through their exciting journey as farmer scientists. But how do we design learning materials suitable for a student population as richly diverse as that of New York City?
Inclusivity is among the most important pillars supporting our approach to climate education. A deep emphasis on everything from culture and language to learning styles and classroom needs underpins the teaching materials we provide, ensuring that students feel safe and seen while learning about hydroponics, both in the classroom and at home. Similarly, differentiating the curriculum helps to provide an accessible and hands-on learning experience to students of all ages and backgrounds. Students enter our classrooms with varying levels of familiarity with climate science concepts. Our curriculum is structured in a way that both students new to sustainability science and climate education pioneers alike can expand their knowledge, learn new skills, and lead experiments alongside their peers. Additionally, keeping learning materials accessible and inclusive is a top priority, to ensure that the content of those materials is truly relevant to students’ lives. Diving into global concepts (such as water management or food waste) on a local level helps students connect broader issues with their local communities. In this way, the curriculum drives home core sustainability and climate science concepts, which we believe is a crucial part of what makes our program such a success.