Using Hydroponics as a Teaching Tool
Do your students know where their food comes from? Or even how it’s grown? Do they know about the sustainable farming practices that went into growing our food, or lack thereof?
Our children today, like many Americans, are more disconnected from agriculture than ever before.
We don’t know who grows our food, what pesticides are used, or even how long it’s been on a truck to get to our plates.
But what is stoping teachers across the U.S. from bringing farming and gardening into the classroom?
Growing Plants is Human
Growing plants, no matter what the technique, is a profoundly human endeavor and we believe it’s also an incredible teaching tool.
There are lessons to be learned about observation, measurement, plant biology, and even nutrition.
But educators from elementary through the high school level can do more than teach students chemistry and biology lessons. With increasingly affordable and accessible technology, teachers can bring the latest growing equipment into the classroom. They can inspire innovative thinking into the minds of their students.
These students need answers to more than just pass a class. They need to develop the critical thinking skills needed to cultivate solutions to complex problems.
And, who knows, maybe even impact the future of agriculture forever.
The Right Technology and Resources for Teachers
At Bright Agrotech, we have educators on our mind.
We believe the opportunities are endless when teachers combine the right resources in the form of great lesson plans with the right technology (ZipGrow towers) to bring STEM education (and plants) to life.
But we know today’s teachers are busier than ever and finding the time to grade papers, let alone research how to bring hydroponics or aquaponics into the classroom, is an uphill battle. Where is an educator supposed to start with a classroom hydroponics system?
Today, we’re making your life easier.
We would like to announce a new resource we’ve developed for teachers specifically wanting to integrate hydroponics in the classroom.
A Quick Refresher:
Hydroponics simply means growing plants without soil.
Aquaponics, then combines aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics and uses fish waste as a nutrient source to grow plants.
Here’s a podcast on the difference.
The Bright Agrotech Educator’s Packet is full of ideas, inspiration, and three lesson plans for teachers hydroponics in the classroom.
How are Educators Teaching Hydroponics and Aquaponics in the Classroom?
There are many teachers out there successfully using hydroponics in the classroom.
Kevin Savage, of Cincinnati, Ohio, describes how his aquaponics lab follows students throughout high school:
“We begin using aquaponics with our freshman in Biology to support teaching of aquatic ecosystems, intro to microbiology, intro to botany, cellular biology, photosynthesis, etc. Our sophomore students take chemistry, and we use the aquaponics systems to teach about pH, oxidation-reduction reactions, etc. All of our “hands-on” construction and system operations aquaponics activities take place as a part of our Environmental Science I & II course sequence (Sustainable and Urban Agriculture), or as a component of independent student research.”
Younger students are equally engaged with a classroom hydroponics system. Dan Hughes, of Holly, Michigan, is sacrificing his desk space to make room for an aquaponic system. He plans to use the system to teach the nitrogen cycle and plant and animal relationships to 7th and 8th grade ecology students.
Vertical Gardening Systems are also springing up in elementary schools around Laramie, WY and the other parts of the country. With affordable gardening tech like this, students are learning about seed germination, plant growth, harvesting, and healthy eating.
The sky really is the limit when it comes to teaching with hydroponics. We hope you’re excited about the possibilities as we are!
Spotlight on Education Innovation: Bob Hooper
Learn all about Bob Hooper’s Farm on Wheels here.
Hydroponics Brings Testable and Measurable Outcomes to the Classroom
Here are a few ideas for ongoing measurements and projects. Many of these tests (like pH and EC) should be performed regularly to monitor system health, so using them as a teaching tool serves a dual purpose!
- Electro-Conductivity (EC) (also measures the solutes/salts in the system)
- Nutrient testing
- Plant growth
- Plant weight at harvest, wet and dry
- Harvest quantities
Use charts, tables, or graphs to help students visualize these data.
Lesson Plans to Get Your System Started
Whether you’re brand new to hydroponics and aquaponics or you’ve heard of it before, you might be asking: “why hydroponics?”
Use the complete “Population Growth and Current Farming” lesson plan and lecture notes included with the educator’s packet, and your class will quickly be thinking about new agricultural technologies.
Two additional lesson plans turn system assembly and seed starting into teachable moments.
We’ve included all the pieces necessary to start teaching and learning with hydroponics.
A Special Deal Just for Educators
If three lesson plans, testable concepts, and more wasn’t enough, you’ll find a special promotion just for educators inside the Educator’s Packet. Bring hydroponics into the classroom with this free resource.
Even more to supplement your lessons with: