24 THE QUEENS COURIER • DECEMBER 14, 2017 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Astoria students will grow vegetables and learn
about sustainability with hydroponic science labs
BY ANGELA MATUA
Students at Astoria‘s P.S. 122 will grow
their own vegetables in class with the help
of two hydroponic science labs that will
also serve to teach students about agriculture,
biology, technology and sustainability.
Councilman Costa Constantinides allocated
$160,000 through discretionary funding
to help build the labs in an elementary
and middle school class at P.S. 122. In a ribbon
cutting ceremony on Dec. 8, the classroom
labs, constructed by New York Sun
Works, were unveiled.
“We are proud to kick off our Science
2050 Budget Initiative with this opening,”
Constantinides said in a statement.
“With these innovative learning spaces,
children have the opportunity to interact
with plants, study the biology of how they
grow, and receive meaningful lessons in
ecology and agriculture. Th ese types of
multifaceted science learning experiences
will give students academic benefi ts in
a variety of subject matters.”
New York Sun Works began in 2004 as
an initiative called Project Science Barge,
according to Director of Development
and Events Sidsel Robards. Th e organization
wanted to build a greenhouse on a
barge on the Hudson River as a model of
a sustainable urban farm.
Th e initiative inspired them to create
Th e Greenhouse Project, an initiative to
re-create what they made on the barge
Students at P.S. 122 will be able to grow their own produce with the help of a hydroponic lab.
but on school rooft ops. Th e fi rst school
chosen for the initiative was P.S. 333 in
Manhattan and now, the organization has
constructed 70 labs and developed 721
curriculum lessons throughout New York
City and New Jersey.
Staff at New York Sun Works met with
science teachers and the principal of P.S.
122 during summer 2017 when they constructed
the hydroponic lab and hosted
professional development sessions with
the teachers, who learned how to operate
A hydroponic lab allows people to grow
plants without using soil. Instead, students
will use water mixed with mineral
nutrient solutions to grow vegetables and
herbs, and each lab is retrofi tted to serve
Photos courtesy of Councilman Costa Contantinides
specifi c spaces.
Th e lab at P.S. 122 includes hydroponic
growing systems, a composting station,
a germination rack and an integrated
pest management station. Plants grown
in hydroponic systems use 80 to 90 percent
less water than plants using conventional
Th is specifi c greenhouse can grow
about 902 pounds of produce a year,
including lettuces, herbs, microgreens,
cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants
and squash. Pesticides are not used in this
lab, so ladybugs are introduced to protect
plants from pests.
In addition to building the lab and
teaching educators how to operate them,
a teacher will come to each each school
and explain how to incorporate the curriculum
developed by the nonprofi t.
Teachers also have access to online videos
that explain concepts like hydroponics,
horticulture and pest management.
“Th e P.S. 122 teachers in the science labs
report that students living in an urban environment
oft en have little connection to
nature and where food comes from,” said
P.S. 122 Principal Anna Aprea. “By bringing
what is typically outdoors inside the
classroom, we hope to connect our students
to the greater environment. Ultimately, we
hope to build on the natural curiosity of the
students to provide an elevated set of skills,
a broader perspective on the issues facing
our communities, and to foster environmental
According to Robards, New York Sun
Works also brings in a professional to fi gure
out how to educate the broader community
about what students are learning in
the lab. Students and teachers have incorporated
their teachings into farm stands,
harvest festivals, cooking demos and have
created initiatives like growing vegetables
for senior citizens in the neighborhood.
New York Sun Works also installed
hydroponic labs at P.S. 70 in Astoria this
summer and will construct labs at P.S. 84
and P.S. 126 in Long Island City in the
summer of 2018. Contantinides secured
more than $3 million for hydroponic science
labs, STEM lab updates, solar panels,
technology upgrades and other facilities
updates during the last budget cycle.
Actress cast in Disney’s upcoming live-action movie ‘Mulan’ lived in Queens as a child
BY ANGELA MATUA
email@example.com / @angelamatua
Chinese actress Liu Yifei was chosen
from nearly 1,000 candidates to play
Mulan in Disney’s live-action movie set
to come out in 2019.
According to Th e Hollywood Reporter,
casting directors traveled to fi ve continents
to fi nd the perfect person to play the
titular role. Th ey searched for a Chinese
actress with martial arts skills and the
ability to speak English and chose Yifei.
Yifei began modeling at 8 years old, and
when she was 10, Yifei and her mother
moved from China to Queens when her
parents divorced. She lived there for four
years and returned to China to pursue a
career in acting and modeling, according
to her IMDb page.
In addition to starring in Chinese
movies and television shows, Yifei also
snagged roles in American movies such
as “Th e Forbidden Kingdom,” a 2008 fi lm
starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li, and the
2014 fi lm “Outcast” starring Nicolas Cage
and Hayden Christiansen.
Yifei is also an accomplished singer and
has released two albums in 2006 titled
“All My Life” and “Lie Yifei.”
Photo via Instagram/liuyifeibar
She will also star in the 2018 fi lm
“Inversion” where she will play a physicist
who tries to save the earth from a loss of
gravity alongside “a street-wise American
con man” played by Samuel L. Jackson.
Chinese actress Liu Yifei will star as Mulan in Disney’s live-action fi lm set to be released in 2019.