By now many have heard that PS 84 will construct a 1,500 sq. ft. hydroponics laboratory classroom for students K-5 on the roof of the school. However there are so many great details that must be shared!
This will be a landmark project that will have profound benefits for our children’s learning experience at PS 84:
· Our Greenhouse Science Laboratory is a classroom built around a 21st Century Sustainable Urban Farm designed specifically to engage children through project based teaching methods.
· Children will develop critical thinking and problem solving skills based on real world scenarios
· The innovative curriculum touches upon multiple disciplines that will help expose children to topics that may capture their interest as they continue through their academic careers including Environmental Sciences, Engineering, The Arts, Community Services, Health Sciences, Economics.
· The program focuses Students on Issues of Global Concern: Climate Change, Efficient use of Resources, Building Greener Cities, and Growing a Secure and Healthy Food Supply
At the local level, the Greenhouse will empower children to make educated choices about their impact on the environment. At the global level, students will learn to appreciate the importance of sustainable development and the links between cultural biological diversity.
Through the Greenhouse PS 84 Students:
- Learn where food comes from and about the resources required to produce it
- Meet and exceed NYC Science Standards
- Make connections between their science and social studies classes
- Gain in-depth knowledge about ecology, natural resource management and foodsheds
- See first hand the connection between food production and nutrition
- Discover how to think creatively about food systems and horticulture
- Understand the global context of agriculture and sustainability
- Are empowered to make their own choices about their impact on the environment and the world
There are 9 systems in our Greenhouse Classroom:
· Weather Station: Interactive Displays allows students to monitor and record variables such as humidity, temperature, solar radiation and carbon dioxide both inside and outside the greenhouse.
· Hydroponic Growing Systems: Hydroponic crops require ten times less water than conventional farming. Crops include tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, peppers, lettuces, herbs and flowers.
· Aquaponics: Fish produce waste that is pumped through a bio-filter and converted into nutrients that the plants can use.
· Rainwater Catchment: The water needed for crop irrigation comes from rain that is captured on the roof of the greenhouse and then stored in water tanks.
· Raised Soil Beds: While hydroponics accounts for the majority of the growing systems, there are two soil beds for younger students to use as they explore what plant need to grow.
· Evaporative Cooling: A passive cooling system, evaporative cooling relies on the absorption of heat by water as it changes from liquid to vapor, which greatly reducing the amount of electricity needed to cool the greenhouse.
· Worm Compositing Station: A fantastic way to teach kids about the process of decomposition and the importance of reducing the amount of waste that enters landfills.
· Solar Power and Wind Energy: In a time when our dependence on fossil fuels is greater than ever, teaching students about renewable energy options is paramount to their understanding of sustainability.
· Integrated Pest Management: Pesticides will not be used on any of the plants in the greenhouse. Instead beneficial bugs will fight the pest bugs.
Status of the Project:
PS 84’s Greenhouse Classroom is one of several going up around the city. It is a highly replicable project designed to operate quickly and relatively smoothly. Here is the link to our Greenhouse webpage on NY Sunworks: http://nysunworks.org/projects/ps84-brooklyn
We are pleased to announce that public funds are being committed to cover the majority of the construction related costs - $1.2 Million dollars. At the moment we are working with the engineers and architects to complete the necessary documents for regulatory approval. The funds to cover these expenses must come from private sources.
We expect to go to bidding in early summer 2013 and hope to commence construction by September 2013. Construction takes approximately 3-6 months.
Greenhouse Indoor Classroom: While the development and construction process is underway, the school has put together a classroom on the third floor of the building where some of the Greenhouse systems have been assembled. Our art teacher Mr. Soto has kindly painted a mural to beautify the temporary lab space. Teachers should be scheduling visits to the lab in the next few weeks. Several of the teachers have taken the teacher training course for the greenhouse already with many more planning to attend future trainings. When the rooftop facility is complete, much of the equipment will be transferred to the roof and the lab will become a staging and prep area for planting.
Community: The PS 84 Greenhouse Classroom will also underscore PS 84’s role as a hub in the Southside Williamsburg Community. Long range plans for the Greenhouse include summer science camp, adult evening classes and community outreach programs. A reading garden and kitchen are also under consideration for future phases of the project.
Principal support: For projects of this magnitude, principal involvement is critical. Our forward-thinking and tireless principal, Sereida Rodriquez-Guerra has been integrally involved with this project from day one.
PS 84 Parents: A sincere thank you goes out to all the PS 84 parents who have helped with this project so far. Your donations, your ideas and help with our fundraising events have been critical in helping us get to where we are today. The PTA will be sending out a donation form to the entire PS 84 community in the coming weeks. Please donate whatever small amount is possible. Every donation counts.
The Greenhouse is the new classroom and it belongs to the entire PS 84 family!
Renderings courtesy of Kiss & Cathcart Architects