Discovering Sustainability Science

The NYSW Youth Conference has always offered a platform for students to share the work and research taking place in their hydroponic labs. It also represents an opportunity to discover Sustainability Science as we reflect on the connections between human behavior, the use of technology, and the impact created on the environment. It is an event that empowers students to follow the path of innovation as we look for solutions to the environmental challenges of our time.

The NY Sun Works youth conference is presented in 2 Sessions

Session 1: Building Sustainable Cities: Students present research focused on design and architecture, sustainable building materials and urban planning.

Session 2: Building a Sustainable Future: Students present research focused on urban farming, feeding a growing population, food systems, and ocean conservancy.

In 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 school closures, students from public schools around NYC came together virtually to share their research and celebrate their scientific accomplishments. The Conference, typically hosted at Symphony Space to accommodate the large audience, pivoted to an online format. But the switch to virtual didn’t tamp down the enthusiasm or energy of the students, all of whom showed impressive perseverance in shifting gears and continuing their months-long research projects from home after schools closed, under the remote guidance of their teachers.

“I learned about all of the jobs involving how we, people, work with plant life including growing plants in space that are edible.  WOW!  And I saw that we have so much science that we have not learned yet.”
-Rohan, 5th Grade

Participating Schools and Organizations

Past conferences have had over 30 student groups from NY Sun Works partner schools across the metro area and special guests presenting to live audiences of over 400 and simulcast streaming audiences of hundreds more.

Past student speakers have presented on an array of science and sustainability topics, including designing at-home hydroponic systems, the environmental hazards of microplastics, and the role of the Doomsday Vault in seed preservation.  Students examined the impact of environmental factors like temperature changes, flooding, and music on plant growth and how plants could be used in environmental and medical applications, such as for bioremediation of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal and the use of Mimosa pudica as a spinal cord stimulator. Students have also proposed solutions ranging from how to capture carbon while encouraging plant growth, to combining and balancing multiple ecosystems and creating energy audits for large commercial spaces.

“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.”

– Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

For information about the Youth Conference, contact Hannah Jaris.

For information about Youth Conference sponsorships, contact Elana Mass.