This project will help stimulate an interest in biology and botany, and teach students how to grow amazing plants. The donation will be used to maintain our aquaponics and hydroponic system where students will learn how to grow vegetables and raise fish, a system they can also do at home and in the community. It is our hope that this project will raise awareness and increase student engagement while they learn as they grow food. Students develop a passion for learning when they can participate in a hands-on project.
Alternative gardening is a STEM project that combines aquaculture (fish farming) and hydroponics (soilless plant farming). It is a small farm that uses fish wastewater as a resource, circulating it through hydroponic grow beds where plants take up its nutrients. The filtered water is then recycled back through the fish tanks. This project will allow our students to see sustainability in action first hand. Students will see how easy it is to grow nutritious food in a small soil less way. Not only will this project teach students an environmental science concept but will also provide an opportunity to learn a life lesson of growing nutritious foods. Most students don’t realize how easy it is to grow foods for their families and this project will expose them to sustainable farming on a small scale. Elementary school students possess a more complex level of reasoning and critical thinking, giving them a deeper understanding of the information they process from experience and the ability to categorize this information for future problem solving. Using the concept of growing food in water as the starting point, elementary school students interactively explore how hydroponic systems have been developed and adapted throughout history, and learn how to construct their own! This hydroponic garden will be a conspicuous center for learning and studying certain plants. Students will have the opportunity to observe the daily growth and consume the products. Students will be engaged from platform construction, planting of materials, nurturing of growth, and harvesting the product. Food preparation and distribution will be included. This project will provide a foundation for a lifelong learning experience with the intent to inspire a healthy diet and teach the benefits of environmental sustainability. Hydroponics and Aquaponics is truly the future of farming and our students are ready to be students of this next generation of farming.