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Students enjoy urban farming at Kingsborough

August 9, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Lyubov Yevseenko (left), Chen Semendouev (center) and Clarence Givhans took part in the graduation ceremony at the end of the Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative. Photos courtesy of AT&T
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Students from all over Brooklyn came to Kingsborough Community College this summer to study urban farming and capped off their session by presenting ideas on creating entrepreneurial opportunities in food and farm technology at a “Shark Tank” type of event.

Nearly 30 high school students took part in Kingsborough Community College’s Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative, a five-week-long program sponsored by AT&T. 

The students’ proposals included everything from a solar-powered compost bin to an app that educates the public on inexpensive and healthy grocery shopping.

During the summer program, students worked on the Kingsborough Community College Urban Farm, studying the science of nutrition, as well as real-world applications of urban farming.

Using their firsthand experience, the students then created their own environmentally sustainable business concepts, which they pitched at a “Shark Tank-style” event to a panel of judges that included Robin White, area manager of external affairs at AT&T; Kingsborough Dean of Faculty Dr. Cathy Leaker; state Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie-East New York-Mill Basin); and Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Sheepshead Bay).

The initiative was also aimed at presenting the continuing study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as an exciting and relevant reality to the students, Kingsborough officials said.

“Students in this exciting AT&T STEM partnership have been presented with a unique opportunity to expand their career horizons,” Kingsborough President Farley Herzek said. “They can take what they have learned on the Urban Farm and in the classroom, develop entrepreneurial ventures and find out unique ways in which their innovations can impact how we grow food.”

Marissa Shorenstein, president of the East Region for AT&T, said the program gives students a leg up in a fast-changing world. 

“Along with giving these students the unique opportunity to work on a farm in the heart of Brooklyn, this year’s Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative showed them that STEM informs so many aspects of our daily lives, down to the food we eat. Our hope is that this summer’s experiences will inspire these students to continue to pursue the study of STEM – in any form – throughout college and careers,” Shorenstein said.

 

 The projects designed by the students included:

 

  • Community Composter: a solar-powered compost bin that manages decomposition of food scraps and browns into healthy and nutritious compost for community use 

  • Connected Roots app: a skill-sharing app for beginner and professional farmers to share information about crop planning, pest and disease management, tool and farm equipment information and community events

  • Recycled Hydroponics: a system that uses recycled materials to build the growing structures that hold water and allow for soilless plant growing

 

The Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative is part of AT&T Aspire, AT&T’s education initiative that includes support for STEM programs in schools throughout the five boroughs. 

Kingsborough’s Urban Farm, where the students spent the five-week course, is an organic site where students, faculty and community residents explore the intersection between sustainable farming, health and urban development. The harvested produce is used in college classrooms and labs and in the kitchens of the college’s Culinary Arts program. 

Students gain hands-on lab experience by working with farm staff and professors to research and measure nutrients in the soil and in plants by using specialized testing kits to collect and analyze the data.

 


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