St. Matthias Catholic Academy in Ridgewood got a great deal of attention for their new STEM lab, which they showed off during a celebration on Jan. 28 for the successful launch of its hydroponics program.
Diego Telechea, one of the student leaders on St. Matthias’ Green Team, knows the lab backwards and forwards since it was introduced to the students in September and has seen the now 6-foot-tall tomato and cucumber plants sprout from seeds planted in what is known as rockwool, an alternative to using soil.
“It’s surprising how they can grow with no soil; I’ve never seen this method before,” Telechea said. “Nobody really knew what a hydroponics lab was when it was first introduced to us at the beginning of the school year. Eventually, as the lab became a little bit more advanced, we learned – we are still learning – what a hydroponics lab is.”
The seventh-grader has become emotionally invested in many of the plants, as have many of the students who take pride in the success of their creation, he said.