A group of ambitious local high schoolers received some hands-on experience this summer as they prepared for college.
At a celebration at Lentol Garden last week, the students marked the end of this year’s S.Y.S.T.E.M. (Summer Youth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Program by displaying their newly acquired environmental knowledge.
S.Y.S.T.E.M. is an annual event, organized by the Greenpoint Y, in collaboration with NYU’s Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education, ExxonMobil and Broadway Stages, in which high school students work to further their educations in environmental studies.
To participate in the intensive six-week program, students must first prove their mettle, with only a small percentage of applicants accepted. After applying through their schools, the students are required to write an essay stating why they should be allowed to participate. The best are invited to be interviewed by the program’s sponsors.
At the closing ceremony, Assemblyman Joe Lentol acknowledged the hard work of the participants and tipped his cap to the garden’s namesake.
“Edward S. Lentol, whose name this garden bears, is very pleased with what this garden has become and how it teaches the future generation about the environment,” he told the students.
Over the summer, the up and coming scientists were grouped together for six different assignments. One of which was an air quality test. Even at Lentol Garden, right next to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, air quality is at good levels.
Joyce Moran and Sebastian Apollon displayed an Air Tech Monitor linked to an Android that measures the air in micrograms per meters cubed (mg/m3). “The smallest amount of greenery makes a world of difference,” Moran said. “Because we’re in the park here surrounded by trees, the air being tested is giving great responses.”
Along with the air quality monitoring, stations were set up along Lentol Garden to showcase a three bin compost system, the flora & fauna of Lentol Garden, water quality testing and a solar charger. Making Greenpoint Green One Roof at a Time showed the process for creating a rooftop garden, from waterproofing the building to irrigating the plants.
“This is a great way to give teens hands on experience in the field of environmental studies,” said Tatiana Terzuoli, Director of Fund Development and Communications at the YMCA. “The annual S.Y.S.T.E.M. Program opens their eyes to different possible job opportunities.”
The students in this year’s program all hope to pursue scientific studies in Biology, Environmental Engineering and Environmental Studies. The S.Y.S.T.E.M. Program gave them hands-on generally unavailable at their grade levels. It also helped to engage their minds in research that included traveling to different areas of Brooklyn to conduct their research. These teens were all well prepared for the August 13 Culmination Event – excited to have completed their projects and ready to move forward in their studies.
“The most exciting thing about the SYSTEM program has been watching the growth and progression of the students, as they problem solve, improve their communication, and learn new skills,” said Tanya Mejia, program manager for SYSTEM. “Not only do they leave the program with a better connection to their local environment, but a better understanding of themselves.”