YPIE Regeneron Science Research Scholars Zowie, Yoselin, and Malak on the Groundwork Hudson Valley Science Barge
"We live in a city where there isn’t much space to grow vegetables. When I first learned about hydroponic systems and the amount that can be grown using little space, I thought it was really cool and was curious how many people we could feed using that small space,” states Malak.
“Through conducting this research I've come to find that hydroponics could have a big impact on food growth in urban areas,” adds Zowie.
Malak and Zowie are 11th-grade Yonkers students who participate in the YPIE Regeneron Science Research program and conduct in-depth research throughout high school. Zowie and Malak joined this program in the spring of 9th grade, with a shared interest in providing more healthy food to a growing population, especially those in low-income communities.
Through their research, Malak and Zowie learned about hydroponics, a type of farming developed to use less space and produce more food. To experience hydroponics firsthand, they participated in an exciting internship at Groundwork Hudson Valley’s Science Barge during the spring/summer of 2021.
The Science Barge is a floating environmental education center on the Hudson River, managed by Groundwork Hudson Valley. In addition to being an education center, it’s equipped with a greenhouse where an abundance of fresh produce is grown with zero net carbon emissions, zero pesticides, and zero runoff. All of the energy needed to power the Barge is generated by solar panels, wind turbines, and biofuels while the hydroponic greenhouse is irrigated solely by collected rainwater and purified river water, thus operating completely “off the grid.”
“Being able to conduct my research on the Science Barge was the most fun part. I met so many nice and passionate people and also had the opportunity to properly learn how to work a hydroponic system and actually grow vegetables in them," said Malak.
Malak and Zowie especially appreciated working with their mentors at Groundwork Hudson Valley during the summer caring for the plants.
Malak and Zowie conducting their research on the Groundwork Hudson Valley's Science Barge
“Conducting my research at the Science Barge was quite an adventure that took me out of my comfort zone," adds Zowie. “It was interesting to work with other people who are very passionate about their research and also learn new things.”
After this internship, Malak and Zowie analyzed the data and performed statistical analysis using data from the USDA during the following fall and winter of 11th grade.
Malak and Zowie presented their combined research at Regeneron WESEF, one of the largest science research competitions in the country. They were honored to be one of thre teams to receive the Leason Elis Team Project Award, recognizing teams that exemplify working well together to achieve a goal.
Malak and Zowie plan to continue their important research this summer and during their senior year of high school further comparing hydroponics and soil and the impact on feeding the most people using the same amount of space.
We look forward to hearing more findings from these very impressive scientists!