The D.C. Environmental Education Consortium (DCEEC) recently hosted a Teachers’ Night at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. DC Teachers networked with local environmentally-focused organizations, and a great time was had by all!
Anacostia Aquaponics hosted an information table at the event and met many great teachers.
One of Anacostia Aquaponics’ goals is to incorporate aquaponics into DC STEM curriculum, as is already being done across the nation!
Classroom aquaponics is an approachable, scalable, engaging, multi-disciplinary learning tool.
An aquaponic system lends itself to learning across disciplines, particularly the NGSS focus in Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering Design. [Credit for aquaponics STEM quotes to Kevin Savage, Aquaponics Association; and Kieran Foran, Trifecta Ecosystems]
Summer 2018 — students in the IDEA PCS Summer Bridge Program learned about aquaponics as an efficient and sustainable way to produce food in an urban environment.
Students helped out by feeding the fish in the 150-gallon aquaponic system.
Last week students from the IDEA Public Charter School Garden Club presented the plan to turn a school parking lot into a pollinator garden. The pollinator garden will prevent city water from flowing into the Anacostia River. William explained that the students want to be able to swim by Kingman Island on the River, but currently the water isn’t clean enough.
Chris explained how a pollinator garden improves the watershed by spreading more plants in the neighborhood that serve as a filter to dirty street water flowing into the river.
Local DC coyote fur!
Jared, Chris and William won $400 for their presentation!
We told the bus driver to head straight to the casino with our big ol’ check!
James and William are retro-fitting an existing aquaponic system to improve water flow in the media bed. Without the extended pipes, one side of the bed would not have adequate water circulation. This could lead to poor water conditions.
In the background we see a hydroponic media bed already growing large amounts of basil and tomatoes. This is because we are still far from an adequate stock of fish to produce enough waste/fertilizer in the aquaponic system, whereas in hydroponics the appropriate nutrients can be dosed immediately.
In the hydroponic system, James’ and William’s improved water circulation is not as important because there is not nearly as much organic material to risk foul conditions. It’s important to understand the trade-offs between aquaponics, hydroponics, traditional soil agriculture, and other growing methods.
For IDEA Public Charter School, the aquaponic system is an invaluable STEM education tool to teach students about the ecosystem of fish, plants and bacteria. But it is important to note that depending on circumstances, aquaponics is not the answer for every growing situation.
Last week we challenged the IDEA PCS garden club students:
If you can move this entire aquaponic system upstairs to the green room during your 1-hour lunch break, we upgrade to pizza for lunch next week. By the way: all the fish have to survive the move; the system has to be back up and running; and you have to move all the water too (we wouldn’t want to shock our bacteria with new water!)
The students succeeded, great teamwork.
Now onto the next goal: grow $200 of produce with this same aquaponic system by the end of the school year… we’re gonna need some bigger fishies than these goldfish, not to be koi 😉 [foreshadowing]
Jajuan and Ms. Mus just finished setting up this hydroponic system at Anacostia Highschool.
They plan to stock the top grow bed with small pots filled with hydroton clay media (pictured in the buckets below). They also plan to feed the plants with liquid hydroponic nutrients.
We’ll check in with them in a few months to see how it’s going. Maybe we’ll even get an aquaponic system going! 😉
Marquette is feeding goldfish in the new aquaponic system at Houston Elementary School of DCPS.
We constructed a grow-trough light enough to sit on the walls of the 75-gallon fish tank.
Water is pumped from the fish tank up to one end of the trough, and drains back into the fish tank from the other side through a bell-siphon. We have some parsley and green onions planted up there to start.
Thanks to the Alice Ferguson Foundation for funding.
We had to temporarily put our fish in a side tank while we performed maintenance on our main fish tank at J.O. Wilson Elementary School…
We put mesh net on the pipe opening in our fishtank. This net will prevent daring fish escapes into the solids filter.