The students in my STEM class are a hardworking, energetic, and curious group. Over the course of our fall semester, they grew into skillful users of the engineer design cycle while designing model planes, 2-liter bottle rockets and toothpick structures that could withstand Jello earthquakes.
Now, these students are ready to apply their science skills to improve the community around them.
When I introduced the concept of a food desert to these students, they were angry that so many low-income families around the country are without access to fresh food. When I next showed them that the neighborhood directly around their school was a food desert, their anger turned into a determination to come up with a scientific solution.
Food deserts, or areas at least 1 mile away from a grocery store where many residents do not own cars, are a significant factor contributing to health inequality throughout the U.S., including in our school's neighborhood. Without access to affordable fresh and healthy food, folks are forced to buy non-nutritious snacks from dollar stores or nearby fast food locations. This leads to increasing obesity and other health issues.
In this unit, our students have been researching food deserts in our community and will move on to learning about nutrition and trying to grow their own vegetables through windowsill hydroponics systems.
Through the kits requested in this project, we will use experimental design to test what factors help plants grow and develop a deep understanding of photosynthesis and other factors necessary for development of a living organism. Once students have gained sufficient scientific understanding through experimentation, they will pitch ideas to scale their hydroponic systems up so that they can actually provide fresh food for their community.
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