Children are naturally curious and inquisitive. My fifth grade students are no exception! They are passionate, caring, ambitious, and innovative. They love any learning experience that is hands-on, as this creates a more engaging environment and more engaged students. They love to see the "magic" of science.
Science is the perfect way to grow lifelong problem solvers and critical thinkers.
One of the ways that my team and I ensure that our students receive science education is to integrate it with language arts. The NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) states "Children enter the realm of scientists as they plan and carry out investigations, solve problems, create models, analyze and interpret data, construct explanations, and design solutions. These opportunities allow them to deepen their understandings of fundamental concepts over time." (2018) It is important to us that we find ways for our students to discover science in a hands-on way and ditch the textbook.
Science should be as hands-on as possible. Bringing aquaponics into the classroom is an extraordinary way to teach my students about how plants get the materials they need mostly from air and water. They will be able to witness first-hand how this is true. I won an aquaponics kit at a professional development workshop, but I have not used it since I did not have an aquarium. This project will bring the aquaponics kit to life.
Incorporating an aquaponics system into my 5th grade classroom provides many benefits to students and the environment.
They will learn a variety of STEM-related standards from tracking data, learning about sustainability and energy use, seeing interactions within an ecosystem, making predictions and observations, and testing water quality to name a few. Aquaponics is the future of farming. It uses less energy, less water, and there's no need for pesticides.
It's been proven that children who grow their own food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. Providing students a means of producing some of their own foods will create a real-world learning experience for them. One of the many great aspects of using an aquaponics system at school is that children can grow a variety of foods, as well as engage in ongoing learning experiences throughout the entire school year and beyond. In turn, hopefully this will help students reduce the wasted food, mostly veggies, in the lunchroom. And, living in Kansas, we don't have to worry about the wind destroying our outdoor greenhouse (true story!). When we had an outdoor garden, it was difficult to maintain as our prime growing season was during the summer. This will provide an exceptional alternative.
Thank you for any contributions to this project to help my students learn about aquaponics and many STEM-related standards.
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