Aquaponics in Education

Aquaponics can provide an engaging, hands-on, project-based learning experience for students.  The integration of aquaponics in curricula can cover many subject areas for any grade level.

 

There are several considerations and good practices to keep in mind when starting an aquaponics program at your school.  Here are a few tips and feel free to contact us at hapafarms@gmail.com for more information.

 

Goals for Schools

Our goal for schools developing aquaponic programs is for the program to become self-sustaining.  This comes from achieving two main objectives:

  • Independent maintenance of healthy aquaponic systems by school faculty, staff, students, and parents, without outside support
  • Solid understanding of the science and engineering behind aquaponics by educators to develop curriculum and grow the program

 

Good Agricultural Practices

It is important to become familiar with Good Agricultural Practices to produce safe food and avoid the potential for food-borne illnesses.

 

Food safety in aquapoanics is a very complicated subject and there are many good agricultural practices that should be followed.  However, here are eight basic practices that will not guarantee food safety but are a good start:

  • Ensure that aquaponic water doesn’t touch the plants
  • Minimize contact with warm blooded feces
  • Use potable water to fill and recharge the system(s)
  • Fence your system for food safety and to prevent drowning incidences
  • Have a designated sink for hand washing only
  • Include signage detailing the rules for the site (see http://manoa.hawaii.edu/ctahr/farmfoodsafety/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Farm_Food_signs.pdf)
  • Avoid overhang that can allow animals over the system(s)
  • Grow beds should be raised from the ground

 

More detailed information can be found at the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Good Agricultural Practices website:  http://manoa.hawaii.edu/ctahr/farmfoodsafety/

 

The following publications serve as good references:

Food safety for aquaponics:

http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/FST-38.pdf

Best practices for school gardens:

http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/FST-45.pdf

 

Aquaponics Topics

There are many educational and learning standards-based topics spanning multiple subjects that are illustrated by aquaponics.

 

Biology:

Nitrogen cycle

Plant growth, cellular structure

 

Chemistry:

Carbon cycle

Plant growth through macronutrients from fish waste

Hydrogen bonds

 

Ecology:

Hydrolic cycle

 

Zoology:

Fish physiology

 

Sustainability:

Energy consumption

Water usage

 

Economics:

Costs of farming

Revenues from farming