Aquaponics and Educating Children
Aquaponics is a fantastic tool for bringing a wide variety of subjects to life for children. The bacteria in the grow beds, the fish in the tank, and plants growing in rocks are all terrific foundations for biology lessons. The spectrum of the grow lights, the inner workings of a bell siphon and water moving through the system can all be part of several physics lessons. The dynamics of pH and how it changes in aquaponics can make chemistry come alive. And, my favorite, learning how integrated eco-systems work and how, if you change one element (for example, temperature) its effects permeate the entire system.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how aquaponics can be used in education. That is probably due to the convergence last week of three events at The Aquaponic Source around education.
- Curriculum – We shipped our first Complete Aquaponics Curriculum Sets last week! This product has taken over a year to launch and it sure felt good to see those first sets boxed up and ready to go. Why did it take so long? Well, we started early last summer with a series of meetings with the two teachers who were our mentors through the development. Then we wrote a lesson and worked with them to make sure that the format worked well for a teacher. We revised and reviewed again until they were happy with it. Then the writing started. As we completed each lesson, the teachers used them in their classroom, supplied feedback, and we revised yet again. Once we had made it through all 24 lessons, we focused on formatting and getting the product polished and ready to ship. We feel especially proud of how well this aquaponics curriculum has been received by the teachers and students at the MESA Elementary program and look forward to working with many other schools in the future.
- Aquaponics Systems – Today we finished packing up an AquaBundance 4-bed Easy Reach system for the Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch in Texas. This system is going to be used as part of their science curriculum in their outstanding program for disadvantaged children. In fact, we’ve been surprised at how many of our systems ship to schools and other organizations that work with children! We have systems in a few colleges now, including Michigan Tech (see video), a private school in Massachusetts, and another Boys and Girls Club. We are about to ship to a school district in New Mexico and a school in Maryland. It seems that as the word spreads about the benefits of aquaponics, more and more schools are seeking grants or private funding to purchase aquaponics systems for their students. We hope this trend continues!
- Children’s Museums – There are many ways that children learn, however many of them are not in a classroom. This week Alan and I were invited to a meeting with the director of the Denver Children’s Museum, along with the person who is in charge of their exhibits.
After introductions we learned that the Denver Children’s Museum is the busiest Children’s Museum in the country on a child visitor per square foot basis, and that they are now looking to expand. Part of this expansion will be a permanent exhibit on growing food and, you guessed it, aquaponics! We explored working with them on this exciting project, which is scheduled to open sometime in 2015. When the meeting was over we got a private tour of the museum, the highlight of which was definitely the bubble room!
If you have children in your life, please be sure to get them involved in your aquaponics system! The symbiotic magic of aquaponics that we adults find so addictive is even more powerful for children. Let’s get them started young!
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Posted: July 23rd, 2012 under Blog, The AP Life, The Aquaponic Source.
Tags: aquaponic curriculum, aquaponics, aquaponics children, aquaponics education, aquaponics system, Cal Farley's Boys Ranch, Denver Children's Museum