While other youngsters spent the summer playing video games, the kids in Greenpoint’s SYSTEM program (Summer Youth in Science Technology Engineering and Math) were able to accomplish a feat most adults have never even tried – building a vertical garden farm from scratch. The industrious teens were led by Solar One educator Joe Chavez as part of a summer educational internship sponsored by the Greenpoint YMCA, the NYU Wallerstein Collaborative and ExxonMobil, and learned how to build a flourishing urban farm for the space-strapped Lentol Garden in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Students worked to maximize growing space in a small area, creating a thriving home for enthusiastic climbers like strawberries, mint, basil and flowering perennials.

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Once the garden was complete the kids moved onto building solar powered race cars, the second tier of the SYSTEM program, which aims to teach not only environmental service learning projects within local communities, but also to incorporate STEM Skills and green technology.

This summer marked the third year of Solar One’s Education program teaching in tandem with SYSTEM. Last summer, kids built a rainwater collection system for the Lentol Garden, which is sans water utility connections. Between maximizing space, building renewable energy systems and adapting to plumbing limitations, these New York City kids are sure to be well equipped when it comes to science and math – not to mention whizzes when it comes to dealing with New York City apartment hunting.

+ Solar One

+ Greenpoint YMCA

Images courtesy of Joe Chavez, Solar One