At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, Janice Mooney-Frank learned about an elementary school in her hometown using aquaponics as a teaching aid. Coincidently, Janice was introduced to someone who knew of Trifecta Ecosystems. Janice contacted Trifecta and was delighted to find out Trifecta worked with that same hometown elementary school she just learned about. Even more bizarre, one of her past students and fellow Durham resident, Eric Francis, was a partner in Trifecta.
Soon after, CREC AAE had this bespoke media bed system installed in their front foyer. ‘Administration agreed the most visible location for our system was the main foyer’. This way students, teachers, and parents would all be able to enjoy it and interact with it. While performing maintenance checkups, it was not uncommon to see a line of kids waiting for gym class staring, pointing and talking amongst themselves about the system and what was growing.
“At our school, our motto is every teacher is a science teacher” Janice stated as she talked about the direct and indirect
benefits of the aquaponics systems. Teachers at CREC AAE would bring students out to see the aquaponics system, which provided them with living context to their classroom lessons.
“ We had a couple tomato plants, and we had one or two in the aquaponics system and kept the rest in earthboxes, and the students got to see how well the ones in the aquaponics system was doing which opened up discussion.” This level of experiential engagement is the crux of why teachers see the value in having an aquaponics system.
Students are now growing up in a world where companies and visionaries are looking to innovate not only the world around them, but push into the stars. The idea of colonizing Mars is a real possibility. For many teachers the idea that humans would once be sent to Mars was only science fiction, but for many of their students it will become a reality.
CREC AAE is focused on aerospace and engineering, both of which can be easily related by to aquaponics. Even at the elementary level there are ways to inspire a student to pursue interests in those fields. Janice Mooney-Frank saw aquaponics as a way to introduce students to farming in order for them to envision a way grow food in space.
Now in it’s second year of programming Janice and her students are experimenting even more with their system. They have started growing plants that create clean air environments and even have a venus fly trap, because why not right! We love following Janice and her school on their journey and love to see what her aquapioneers will come up with next.