Kindergarten Aquaponics Study and Neighborhood Clean Up

  • Location
    Buffalo Grove, Illinois
  • Status
  • Age Level
    Any Age
    5 to 7 Years

The Problem

Young students need to be taught early the importance of biodiversity and the role of humans in maintaining a safe environment. Students can and should teach their families the importance of taking charge of their own community and reduce pollution through a team clean up and create materials to teach others to do the same.

Our Plan

-Teach students about aquaponics through a classroom aquaponics tank -Have a visit from the local park district environmental action team -Create a plan to clean up a student-selected area of our community

Themes Addressed

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    Clean Water
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    Community Enhancement
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    Water Pollution & Conservation

The Benefit

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Here is how the project went:

I loved how our hydroponic tank became a mainstay in our classroom! We made the entire project a multidisciplinary activity. We began the project by having the students discuss what they already knew about ponds, fish, and plants. We then made a list of reasons we thought that the hydroponic tank would help us learn and asked for "permission" from our principal with a group letter on behalf of all of the 5 year olds. It was very convincing! :-) Over the course of the school year, the students spent time daily visiting with our betta fish (named Tikki) and his eventual snail friends, Cece and Cuetue. The tank was the central inspiration for so many discussions of how the environment works, how living species depend on each other, and why we should take good care of our Earth.

Through this project I/we learned:

My students learned to appreciate, evaluate, and think critically about water systems and the relationships between various living things. We learned about how the roots of the plants, the fish, and the microorganisms are interdependent. We have a pond very near our school and the students thought critically how the tank was much like the large pond when we thought about the relationships between the plants, the fish, and the balance of the ecosystem. In early April, we will have a visitor from the Buffalo Grove Park District come in to expand our learning as she will discuss the importance of trees and native species in our area. In late April, we will celebrate Earth month, and the students will create projects to persuade others in the community to keep the pond (and environment in general) clean, and we hope to have a modified community clean up project before the end of the year. (See "If I/we did this project again, we might change" section).

What I/we might change:

If we did this project again, I would have to do more research on the neighborhood clean up element of it we had hoped to achieve. We were not able to coordinate a group clean up as it turns out my students are too young for the coordinated clean lead by our park district. We will, however, be able to ask families to do individual clean ups around their own homes and ask them to send in photos of what they collect. We will then create a class book of our students cleaning up their own communities that will serve as inspiration for others as we share it with our district!

My/our favorite part of this project was:

My favorite part of this project was watching my students have authentic compassion for the fish and plants that we had in our tank. They would come in every single morning to check on them and talk to them. I overhead my students on more than one occasion discuss how they should not put garbage outside because "animals like Tikki need it nice and clean." Out of the mouths of babes!

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

A classroom fish tank can be some extra work for the teacher, but the cross-disciplinary teaching/learning that it can lead to make it so incredibly worth the work! -These tanks are a great way to learn more about how various plants can grow (even growing without soil!)

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