South Orangetown Central School District

Principal Dr. Chad Corey joined excited seventh-grade technology students and Technology Teacher Louis Chugranis yesterday morning to open a special package. The students had been researching ideas for the South Orangetown Middle School courtyard and greenhouse, when they discovered an environmentally-friendly hydration product for plants and trees.

“They noticed a contact number on the website for the founders and inventors, Dr. Hailing Yang, a chemist, and Dr. Wei Zhang, a chemical engineer, and exclaimed ‘Call them!,’” laughed Mr. Chugranis. To their surprise, Dr. Zhang answered the phone and spent 15 minutes discussing gardening and the product he helped to invent with the class. By the end of the call, Dr. Zhang had volunteered to donate samples (and t-shirts!) for the class to test.

Dr. Zhang’s shipment arrived today and students couldn’t wait to take the mats outside to see how they would work once the weather is a bit warmer. The mats are placed around the roots of trees and plants to absorb, retain and slowly release water to the soil. By cutting down on the need for frequent watering, the mats help to conserve water.

“This is a perfect example of students’ excitement creating new opportunities for learning,” said Dr. Corey.

Adult and child wrapping base of tree with mat