Vision

Our hands on project allowed students the opportunity to explore multiple cross curricular learning outcomes in reading, writing, word work, speaking and listening, measurement, the water cycle, plant life cycles, fish life cycles, and art to name a few. The overall vision was to create a hands on learning project which was cross curricular, involved parents, school and community, and showed students that they have the power to make the world a better place through small actions at home. All students were involved in planning, building, decorating, and maintaining our system. Students impressed parents, other students and educators with their passion and knowledge on the subject of aquaponics. My class was empowered through this alternative food production method. Many students carried this passion over to their home life. Some students planted food at home, or began raising their own fish at home. Some parents have expressed interest in building their own aquaponics system after seeing the excitement of their children and all the learning that occurred.

Action

Students created a classroom aquaponics system from the ground up. Students were involved and engaged every step of the way. They actively researched the necessary background knowledge through books, websites and videos prior to starting the project. Students were directly involved in the planning, building, decorating, and maintenance processes of the system. Students learned what was needed for both plants and fish to thrive in a mini ecosystem. They chose what types of fish and plants to use and learned how to care for them. Students observed, measured, and wrote about any and all changes, successes and problems that occurred with the system. Students documented their learning through science journaling, a video, blogging and written reports. They taught their parents all about the system during student led conferences. Many parents were so impressed that they decided to build their own systems at home. Many cross curricular connections were made through this project. Students developed their oral language skills through teaching students and parents about the system. They practiced the skills of good writing daily, in their science journals. They developed a vast scientific vocabulary. Students learned so many skills and new things through this project it is difficult to list them all. They learned concepts like temperature and basic chemistry, and many other exciting things not covered by the regular grade two curriculum. We made community connections with "Let's Talk Science" at the University of New Brunswick and the Atlantic Canadian Aquaculture Association. We had a field trip to the university botanical greenhouse and aquaculture lab which tied in nicely to the project. The scientists were impressed with their knowledge. We also made a connection with UNB Saint John campus professor Dr. Thierry Chopin and Tanner Stewart the CEO of nutraponics. They are a multitrophic aquaculture company coming to New Brunswick with hopes of getting a foot in the door in the public school system. The possibilities for the future of the project are very promising. My hope is that we are some day able to take it to the next level where large scale food growing systems can be part of schools and supplying school cafeterias with both edible fish and plants.