Spend July with Kingsborough’s for the Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative (BSII) a science and business immersion program!
This program has a lot going for it! First, you’ll learn about foundational chemistry topics through the lens f nutrition, specifically about how chemicals, vitamins and minerals effect basic bodily systems. Second, you’ll use KCC Urban Farm, KCC’s on-campus food production site, as a hands-on laboratory. Third, you’ll take what you’ve learned to create businesses that respond to industry-related problems. When you go back to school in the Fall, you’ll have the power to amaze your friends with your knowledge of chemistry, business, nutrition AND farming.
Last year’s focus of Earth Science led students to create businesses such as SpearTech, a solar-powered outdoor canopy that harnesses the sun’s power for usable energy, and BeeHax, a company that studies and proposes solutions to the collapse of bee colonies around the world, among others.
This summer 14 high school juniors and seniors participated in the Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative (BSII), a program generously supported by the AT&T Foundation. BSII, a collaboration between CEWD–led by our very own Dr. Edgar Troudt–and KCC’s College Now program–led by the program’s Director Robert Pero–provided college-level Earth Science and Entrepreneurship classes. During this 5-week program, student groups developed virtual business based on what they learned in class.
Photo via Jessica Nieberg at Kings County Politics
Last week, these students presented their businesses to a crowd of over 50, including the president of AT&T Foundation in New York, Marissa Shorenstein, KCC President Farley Herzek, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. Businesses included a system using oysters to clean the ocean, the development of metal cell phone cases to protect and limit radiation exposure, a proposed design for a prototype machine to clean the bottom of the ocean, a solar-powered water filtration system for countries with limited access to clean drinking water, and an app to help make learning earth science more enjoyable.
We haven’t spoken much about science on the farm, but we’ve had a number of projects going over the last few years. Last season, KCC Urban Farm ran a small experiment to see how adding minerals to our soil could boost plant nutrition. This year, we plan to expand upon that experiment, so stay tuned for internship opportunities!
Soil is made out of minerals (50%), air (23%), water (23%), and organic matter (4%). Because KCC Urban Farm is lucky enough to receive donations of compost from the Department of Sanitation, however, our soil has 30% organic matter! What does this mean for us? For growing our high quality vegetables, it means we have to test our soil for the nutrients plants need to grow.
Based on the soil test results, we can add mineral amendments based on what we’re missing.
Student research assistant Adriana Valerio measuring brix in kale leaves
We want to know if our mineral amendments are leading to healthier crops. In 2014, we ran a small experiment on our tomato plants: we amended only half of the plants for each variety of tomato. After a couple of weeks, we measured calcium and brix levels in new and old leaves for all of the tomato plants. We did the same thing a couple of months later. Calcium is important for plant growth – plant cells use it for structure. It’s also a good indicator of nutrient uptake. Brix is a measure of plant sugars – if brix is high, we know our plants have everything they need to thrive.