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Benefits of Aquaponics for Students

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    Benefits of Aquaponics for Students

    Benefits of Aquaponics for Students

    Aquaponics is an innovative farming solution that students can experience firsthand at Commonwealth Charter Academy. AgWorks at CCA® includes a one-of-a-kind aquaponics facility located at CCA’s Capital Campus in Harrisburg. This facility gives students the opportunity to get involved in aquaponics, hydroponics, and aeroponics.

    Aquaponics is an agricultural method that uses fish waste to grow plants instead of soil. Students learn the importance of aquaponics and valuable skills that will shape their perspective on farming and the environment. It may even inspire their future careers.

    Aquaponics vs. Traditional Soil Gardening

    Aquaponics sounds fancy, but the concept is quite simple. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to traditional soil gardening. Let’s gain a better understanding of how it works:

    1. The process starts with a collection of fish in a pond or aquarium.
    2. Over time, the fish produce waste that becomes toxic without proper filtration.
    3. With an ebb and flow aquaponics system, farmers transport the dirty water to crops where bacteria convert the fish waste into usable nutrients for the plants.
    4. Once the plants have filtered out the bacteria, the clean water flows back to the fish, and the process starts again.
    5. Fish waste provides nutrients to the plants, and the plants provide clean water to the fish.

    In traditional soil gardening, farmers often use fertilizer to supplement vital nutrients, creating toxic runoff that pollutes our environment. Aquaponics allows farmers to cultivate their crops without harming the ecosystem. It’s 90% more water-efficient and lets farmers grow food in areas with harsh climates and poor soil.

    Exploring Educational Aquaponic Opportunities

    Aquaponics is a dynamic process that can teach your child many lessons. It’s a jumping-off point to explore the nitrogen cycle, symbiosis, engineering, and many other engaging topics.

    Witnessing these processes firsthand is an exciting way to help your child master these complex ideas. Creating a real-life example of aquaponics at home is simple. The materials for a basic aquaponics system include:

    • Aquaponics starter kit: Several affordable aquaponics starter kits are available online with everything you need for an aquaponics garden so you can get started right away. Otherwise, you can collect the supplies separately and create your own custom setup. You’ll need an aquarium, gravel, water pump, water conditioner, fish food, plant pots, and seeds.
    • Fish: Choose a suitable fish for the size of your aquarium. Bettas, tetras, zebrafish, and fancy guppies are ideal for small tanks.

    Once your child sets up their garden, they can sit back and witness the beauty of science right before their eyes.

    If your child is buzzing over their home aquaponics system, they would be an excellent fit for the CCA aquaponics club. AgWorks at CCA allows students to experience the wonder of aquaponics on a much larger and more advanced scale.

    What Is the Aquaponics Club?

    The Aquaponics Club was created to show students what the AgWorks at CCA program has to offer and how they can benefit from it – regardless of where the students live. AgWorks at CCA boasts both a physical lab in Harrisburg and a mobile lab that travels across the state to offer students additional hands-on learning opportunities. Students can participate in three different labs — research and development, tissue culture, and genetics.

    The club has multiple CCA teachers serving as advisers spread out between grades K-12:

    • Brittany Shaffer — Grades K-5
    • Kaitlynn Corrado — Grades 6-8
    • Rebecca Rundall — Grades 9-12

    The club meetings are virtual, and the lab itself has some great technology that allows students to view and use the lab for experiments both in-person and remotely.

    The club advisers take students on virtual tours of the lab and set up cameras throughout the facility to aid in the learning process. Because club members will be spread across Pennsylvania, we built a dashboard to monitor plant growth and fertilizer levels in the facility. Students will have the opportunity to observe and track plant growth. They will see how different types and amounts of light affect growth over time using rulers and camera monitoring.

    Why Did CCA Create an Aquaponics Club?

    Why Did CCA Create an Aquaponics Club?

    CCA created the Aquaponics Club to teach students a new, sustainable way to farm. By participating in the club, students will see how technology integration creates innovative solutions in the agricultural industry. Sam Johnson, the director of Agworks at CCA, offered several other reasons:

    • “Aquaponics allows students to receive training in a wide array of disciplines,” Johnson said. “System design, marketing, plumbing, chemistry, electrical work, data analysis, and coding are just some of the careers that can come out of this lab.”
    • There are also many other aquaponics advantages. The club and classroom aquaponics help students learn about food origins and the variables that affect plant growth, empowering them to grow their own plants.

    Club advisers plan to work closely with Johnson as they develop AgWorks at CCA. They’ll be hosting in-person club events so students can see the lab and participate in hands-on aquaponics-related activities. These events also give students with similar interests a chance to interact in a social setting.

    The Benefits of Student Involvement and Aquaponics for Kids

    The Aquaponics Club benefits students in all grade levels by teaching valuable lessons that apply to many other subjects. Here are just a few things they’ll learn:

    • Science: Botany, chemistry, physics, and biology are just a few branches of science students study through aquaponics. Instructors can adapt these lessons from simple to complex for students of all ages.
    • Sustainability: At CCA, we teach our students to appreciate and respect the earth. Aquaponics is a prime example of sustainability that students can see and practice at home on a smaller scale.
    • Food origin: Aquaponics teaches students the time and effort required to create the food they see at the grocery store. They’ll have an increased appreciation for their food and how it’s grown.
    • Business: Students can practice marketing and communication by developing content for AgWorks at CCA and the produce they grow.

    What to Know About AgWorks at CCA’s Aquaponics Club

    Participating in the running of a successful aquaponics garden provides learning opportunities in many different fields, such as:

    • Aquaculture
    • Hydroponics
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Engineering
    • Electrical contracting
    • HVAC
    • Computer science
    • Business principles
    • Supply chain economics
    • Communication
    • Marketing

    Participating in the AgWorks at CCA Aquaponics Club allows students to practice these skills and explore potential career fields. Students can get involved by joining the Aquaponics Club, volunteering at the facility, attending upcoming events, or applying for an internship at AgWorks at CCA.

    Learn more about the Aquaponics Club by exploring their YouTube channel.

    Let Your Child Conduct Their Own Aquaponic Research With Agworks at CCA

    Let Your Child Conduct Their Own Aquaponic Research With Agworks at CCA

    With the Aquaponics Club, students have the chance to conduct research that has never been done. They can see the plant and fish life cycle and learn more about the variety of careers that can come from this field.

    Is your child interested in getting involved with AgWorks at CCA? Contact us today!


    Commonwealth Charter Academy


    December 12th, 2018


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