Aquaponics in Schools:
Aquaponics is an excellent means of demonstrating many principles of science, agriculture, math and business in all grade levels and for home schooling. Applications of these technologies are only limited by ones imagination.
The concept of hands on education shines when it comes to aquaponics in schools. In addition to the plant sciences, aquaponics incorporates and demonstrates many of natures natural cycles, nitrification, biology, fish anatomy and nutrition and high-tech agriculture. A unit in aquaponics enforces practical uses of chemistry, mathematics, physics, economics and engineering. The monitoring and care of an aquaponic system by students helps in still a sense of responsibility, inspires creativity and creates excitement in the learning environment.
A unit in aquaponics can be started at the beginning of a semester and run through the entire semester, allowing the educator to present the individual concepts and lessons as the plants and fish develop and grow.
Strengths of aquaponics:
Active involvement of children growing their own fruit and vegetables.
Caring for fish. Teach the importance of caring for living creatures. Children love to feed and bond with fish.
Systems can be built indoors or out. Make use of any available space. Bring redundant buildings back to life.
Ready market for produce. Offer something back to the children. Reduce running costs and teach practical economics. Everyone prefers to eat food they have produced themselves. Many children will have ponds in their gardens or aquaria in their homes. They would love to house any surplus fish produced.
No messy soil. Keep the children clean and eliminate soil borne pests and diseases.
Low maintenance. No watering required and very little, if any, weeding. Who wouldn’t love that?
Demonstrate plant/animal relationships. There is no better way to demonstrate the Nitrogen Cycle in action.
Safety. Fish (and plants) are quiet, safe to handle and do not bite. Oh, and delicious!
Recommendations for aquaponics for schools:
Goldfish would be an ideal choice of fish. These are readily available, hardy and easy to care for. Breeding is relatively easy. Any surplus fish can be made viable to parents with garden ponds or indoor aquaria. Disease medications readily available.
Avoid plants that need harvesting over the summer holidays. Lettuce, peas and beans would be a better choice than tomatoes or peppers. Strawberries are always popular and tie in well with the school year.
Install in a low cost polytunnel. This will allow activities throughout the year and independent of the weather.
Install a small lighting system. Demonstrate the requirement for light of plants. Extend the growing season and improve observation of the fish.