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Teachers Join NY Sun Works for an Action-Packed Professional Development on Election Day

December 5, 2019

Have you ever wondered what features of a NY Sun Works greenhouse classroom are environmentally responsible, how a plant might be like a hydroponic system, or, how light energy transforms into chemical energy (food) in plants? 

At this year’s fall professional development workshop, NY Sun Works Greenhouse Classroom teachers from across the city explored and discussed these very questions from the new Discovering Sustainability Science Curriculum for middle school. They worked together to develop plans to implement the new lessons in their own greenhouse classrooms, set goals for themselves and their farmer scientists (students), and even had time to make their very own jar of refrigerator pickles.

The goal of this fall’s professional development workshop was to provide teachers with the opportunity to explore the brand new middle school curriculum. And on the rooftop greenhouse of the PS 333, explore they did! First year and returning greenhouse classroom teachers worked in small groups to brainstorm ways to  implement the new lessons, discussed and worked through potential challenges they might face when trying out these lessons for the first time, and drew strong and clear connections to student activities and learning already taking place in their classrooms. All teachers navigated through the NY Sun Works Learning Center – the online platform that stores all of the Discovering Sustainability Science Curriculum, multilevel learning materials (including our colorful, engaging, and information NYSW Reports), as well as resources and tips for teachers on how to grow crops in their GHCs and maintain the different hydroponic systems.

Finally, a NY Sun Works teacher workshop would not be complete without the introduction of a simple way for students to prepare the crops they grow, for eating. This time, the focus was using chemistry, or the process of pickling, to preserve cucumbers. At the end of the day, the teachers left the rooftop greenhouse having made valuable connections with fellow GHC teachers over shared experiences including first year butterflies, curriculum implementation strategies, and student farmer scientists goals and successes.  They had new ideas for how to bring the hydroponics systems into their lessons such as, “use the vine crop system to teach about photosynthesis and cellular respiration”, “[this is an] awesome lesson [for] preparing students for the regents exam” and “I love how this topic [GMOs] applies to something meaningful to students.” They set clear goals for the rest of this year ranging from “use my knowledge of the crop system to develop a cross-curricular lesson that can be discussed in multiple subjects” to “implement at least 5 lessons” to ”have a huge harvest party with students and parents!” And, they left with a jar of freshly made refrigerator pickles.


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