A student makes a final presentation during a STEM program at Kingsborough Community College that focuses on nutrition and environmental science. PHOTO: CAITLIN OCHS FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative final event on August 3rd was covered by Brooklyn New 12 and The Wall Street Journal. Congratulations to the staff and students on the successful summer and please watch the video at the link and read the article posted below.
At a ‘Shark Tank’-like event, students pitch mock startups that would grow hydroponic vegetables and clean up the ocean
By Mariana Alfaro
Aug. 3, 2017 6:56 p.m. ET
Microphone in hand, Maral Artykova looked straight into the judges’ eyes and pitched her $788,000 idea to mine plastics out of the ocean and transform them into environmentally friendly fibers. The crowd initially gasped at the thought of spending that much money on trash, but clapped after hearing Ms. Artykova’s projected earnings: After a year, the startup would have revenue of over $1 billion.
Ms. Artykova wasn’t really looking for investors. She is one of 40 high-school students who participated in the Kingsborough Community College’s Brooklyn Science Innovation Initiative. The five-week program is meant to engage students’ interest in environmental and nutritional sciences through real-life experience, working in an urban farm and developing their own mock startups.
The free program, co-sponsored by AT&T , is on its third year and is meant to help students who may not have the resources to participate in other precollege science programs. On Thursday, students presented their project ideas to a panel of judges in a “Shark Tank”-styled event.
The pitching event was a culmination of weeks of classes and farm work. Students were given science and public speaking lessons, as well as free rein of a small plot of land where they could grow mixed greens and flowers.
Most groups incorporated their farming lessons into their startups. Hydroponic Greens—presented by a group of six students wearing carefully coordinated black-and-white business attire—sells vegetables grown with nutrient-charged water only, taking soil out of the equation. Another idea, “My Little Farm,” helps young children learn about sustainable farming and healthy eating practices by giving them their own farming kit at the cost of $60.
All groups presented their companies to the panel, which then questioned them on the revenue and practicality of their ideas. After presenting “My Little Farm,” Tamia Franklin, 16 years old, promised the panel that, though $60 might seem a little pricey to some, her company would work with outside organizations to make the product accessible to everyone.
Ms. Franklin, a rising senior at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, hopes to one day become a pediatrician. She applied to the program partly because of its emphasis on nutrition.
“I’ve been trying to get a diet going on, so I was like ’Oh, what better way to learn about science and nutrition,’” she said. “I came to the program to be able to learn more about nutrition and how the body works.”
Glenda Ullauri, a farm educator at Kingsborough, said she was excited to see urban farming highlighted in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields among young high-school students. Ms. Ullauri, who spent most of the five weeks coordinating the students’ work in the college’s urban farm, said the program emphasized collaboration and teamwork to improve their entrepreneurial skills.
“They spent a lot of time talking and collaborating, really worked through all of the steps of their business model,” she said.