Inner-city students learning indoor gardening techniques in curriculum-guided science program

steadyGROWpro representative, Dan Bigg, with Gompers Fine Arts Option School students and teacher.

Science students at an inner-city Chicago middle school will study indoor gardening techniques for the next two months as they will grow their own vegetables and report on their successes for science fair exhibits. 

Nearly 200 fourth-, fifth- and seventh-grade students at Gompers Fine Arts Option School, a magnet school on the city’s south side, will follow a curriculum developed and led by steadyGROWpro, a Kokomo, Ind.-based company that manufactures and distributes an indoor, soilless plant-growing product used by home and professional gardeners and hydroponic growers. steadyGROWpro is a division of floral giant Syndicate Sales Inc.

Wednesday, students planted their seeds in steadyGROWpro. They will care for their seeds, monitor seed growth and germination and report on their successes at the conclusion of the curriculum, which culminates with Gompers Fine Arts Option School’s annual Science Fair in late November. Each fourth-, fifth- and seventh-grade class will also participate in a classroom seed-growing project.

“Opportunities for inner-city youth to experience agriculture are limited at best so we’re extremely excited to help educate young minds, share the fundamentals of indoor gardening and broaden these young students’ experiences,” said Kelvin Frye, national sales manager for steadyGROWpro. “This is our first curriculum-based educational venture since steadyGROWpro was introduced in the marketplace earlier this year. We look forward to the successes of this program at Gompers and others in the near future.”

Funded entirely by steadyGROWpro, the curriculum was developed by steadyGROWpro’s Dr. Pawan Srivastava, an experienced scientist and successful creator of innovative hydration products used throughout the global floral industry, and steadyGROWpro company representative Dan Bigg. The idea originated when Bigg and his wife, Carol, manned a steadyGROWpro booth at a Chicago-area strawberry festival in July.

“We met Gompers teacher Tenika Broussard and one of her peers and started talking about how great it would be to put a program together for the school’s science students that taught them the basics of indoor plant growth using steadyGROWpro,” Bigg said.

Dr. Srivastava joined steadyGROWpro parent company Syndicate Sales in 1994 as a research scientist and today oversees research and development in new product initiatives for steadyGROWpro. During his time at the company, he has formulated and developed the company’s line of products that includes Aquaplus© the Difference is Clear, Aquahold©Pro, Hydraplus©, Hydraquik© and Aquafinish Clear©.

SteadyGROWpro is available in plugs, sheets, blocks and slabs and helps growers maximize results when growing indoor food crops like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, popular flowering plants, woody ornamentals, vines, ivy and more. SteadyGROWpro has been laboratory tested to produce faster seed germination, higher fruit weights and better overall fruit quality than rockwool.

Gompers Fine Arts Option School is named in honor of Samuel Gompers, the labor leader who founded the American Federation of Labor, and opened in 1926 as an elementary school. The school became a middle school and in 1983 acquired a magnet focus emphasizing fine and performing arts. With a staff of 45 administrators, teachers, educational support personnel and custodial staff, Gompers Fine Arts Option School educates nearly 500 students annually and is located at 12302 S. State St. in Chicago.

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