Creating Sustainable Mini-Ecosystems

Ecosystems Hydroponics Grant pictureExcited 7th graders formulated the idea for this project and undertook the initial research into designing and building two hydroponic gardens (‘floating’ plants growing in a mineral nutrient solution in water, without soil) and an aquaponic garden (fish living beneath a floating garden). The students’ inspiration came from an existing 70-gallon fish tank in one of the Life Science classrooms, and HEF is excited to encourage their enthusiasm. This is more than just a fun project, however; as students learn more about the balance of ecosystems, they’ll be meeting science curriculum state standards in Life Science and Ecology.

Moving forward, 7th and 9th grade students will get the hands-on opportunity to sustainably produce food as they learn the important role of plants in an ecosystem, see the effects of photosynthesis and the transfer of energy into food, as well as the important nitrogen and carbon cycles involved. Koi have been chosen as the residents for the aquaponic garden, and students are eager to see how they and the plants affect each other. When plants are ready to harvest, students will study cell structure and functions under microscopes.  And produce will be donated to the school cafeteria for all to enjoy. Throughout the summer, 7th grade summer school students will experiment with factors that affect the growth of the plants, and some may be transplanted to the school’s more traditional outdoor garden.


Awarded Spring 2016
West Junior High School
Submitters: Mary VanPilsum-Johnson, Lauren Wester, Geoffrey Boeder

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