“America’s school system is broken”
I hear that more and more lately, on the news, online and just on the street.
Unfortunately, the same education that once made this country great may now be failing to prepare our children for today’s, and tomorrow’s, world.
Standardized and mechanized education does not serve our children. In reality, it only serves to prepare them for an ever-increasing barrage of standardized tests.
According to a report from the Center for American Progress, the average student takes between 10-20 standardized tests PER YEAR!
That means an average of over 2 standardized tests per month of school. This doesn’t even count normal tests and quizzes given by individual teachers.
With tests like this dominating the calendar, how can teachers teach? How can students learn?
A multidisciplinary approach in education is what we need.
We believe we have a solution: aquaponics in the classroom.
Aquaponics means raising fish and plants together in the same ecosystem. The fish fertilize the plants and the plants filter the water for the fish.
The aquaponics ecosystem is a multi-disciplinary tool that is useful for teachers in all grades, and exciting for students of all ages, including adults!
The living ecosystem is a perfect tool for teaching biology and ecosystem sciences.
The microbial processes of converting fish waste (ammonia, NH4) to plant fertilizer (nitrate, NO3) give real life examples of chemistry and microbiology.
The system hardware teaches engineering, design, and construction skills all at once with a real-world example.
Students can even design and build their own systems to increase personal ownership of the project.
Even the system’s excess food production can be used to teach the older kids the basics of business, economics, and entrepreneurship.
Can you see all the applications for learning here?
The Next Generation Science Standards and the Next Generation of Educational Tools
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been recently ratified, which will affect the science curricula of every grade from kindergarten to 12th across all public schools. As such, the NGSS will have a profound effect on our children as they are raised with these new standards.
So what are these new science standards?
Teams from twenty-six states worked together with a 40-member writing team and a countrywide network of partners to develop the standards.
The new standards are focused around four core ideas of physical sciences; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science.
A pdf of each grade’s Storyline, or curricula, can be found here.
Based on these storylines, we feel that aquaponics is most applicable in grades 2, 3, 4, 5, MS, and HS.
What do you think?
Are you a teacher, or writing your own curricula for the NGSS? Are you searching for that perfect classroom tool to engage your students and set your class apart?
You may be Interested in using aquaponics as a powerful teaching tool.
Continuity in Education
One major goal of the new standards is to create continuity between grades and between subject matter.
Aquaponics in our schools creates a unique thread throughout a student’s educational career, weaving together multiple grades and all the disciplines as mentioned above.
Continuity like this leads to better retention of information, as well as a higher degree of conceptualization, and creativity.
Our strategic plan for aquaponics in education calls for a multi-year approach.
In elementary school, aquaponics provides a fun and exciting portal into nature that matches directly with the NGSS for grades 2-5.
For middle school, larger aquaponics systems can be used to dive deeper into the abundance of biological, chemistry, and physics experiments ready to be explored.
In high school, students can use large systems in greenhouses or elsewhere to create an appreciable amount of food for sale.
This Vocational Agriculture program for the 21st century will help our students find work in major up and coming industries like aquaponics and urban farming. High school students can be mentors to the middle school students. Thus creating inter-generational connections.
Using direct, experiential learning in the classroom, aquaponics effectively teaches all grades. Creating a program that weaves across grades and crosscuts concepts and disciplines is the foundation of the NGSS and aquaponics fits it perfectly.
“What’s most exciting for me [about aquaponics in the classroom] is the student engagement–they’re just thrilled to death about having this,” said Jane Callery, science instructor at CREC Medical Professions and Teacher Preparation Academy. “The students have taken it over and they have ownership over the whole system and what’s happening inside.”
“People in education always talk about student discourse,” she added. “Whenever I have student teachers here, I always tell them, ‘This is my favorite part of my job.’ When I have kids talking about what they’re learning and how they can have other ways of making things better within the system, that’s how I know I’ve met my goal.”
Mrs. Callery is just one of a growing number of teachers using aquaponics to meaningfully engage her students in the classroom.
Aquaponics systems themselves fit just about anywhere!
At FRESH Farm Aquaponics, we offer multiple sizes of aquaponics systems for any size classroom or grade level.
In fact our new aFrame kit is compatible with many of the most common size fish tanks, including the 20-60 gallon tanks are already in classrooms across the country. Integrating aquaponics in the classroom has never been this easy before now.
Would you like to stop cleaning that fish tank, performing water changes, and dealing with all that gross fish poop?
aFrame Works with Existing Aquariums
The aFrame works with any size fish tank from 20-60 gallons and converts it into a working Vertical Aquaponics system.
You’ll never have to do a water change or clean the tank again. The plants take care of that for you while the fish take care of the plants.
Just feed your fish and enjoy the bounty from the two vertical towers!
We’ve also secured powerful, state-of-the-art LED lights at an unbelievable price and they come included in the aFrame kit.
In fact, the price of a similar light on the market is more than the price of the entire aFrame kit. Yet with this kit you receive 2 LEDs, 2 vertical grow towers, all the plumbing, pumps and the frame itself! We worked tirelessly to secure deals so we could price the aFrame at a price that any school could afford. So now there is a great option for teachers of all types to start vertical aquaponics in their classroom. You can watch me assemble an aFrame in just a few minutes in this video.
Ready to dive in with both feet and bring vertical aquaponics to a classroom near you?
Do you know someone involved in education or who would have interest in getting aquaponics in their school?
We’re giving away a PDF detailing the aFrame in its entirety.
You’ll get to see the exact breakdown of the system and it’s components. Even if you don’t buy it from us, you could go out to the store and build it yourself!
Click here for a free PDF explaining our aFrame. Share this with a friend if you think it would add value to their lives!
Want to know more? Contact us today!