Last Friday I spent much of my day with five high school students on a field trip to a tilapia farm to pick up the tilapia for our aquaponics project. We purchased 50 tilapia from R&D Fish Farm in Oshkosh, WI. The students spoke with one of the owners and garnered knowledge from an expert who has been raising fish for 12 years. It demonstrated to me how passion can impact learning. Each of these kids gave up their day off of school in order to make this trip. It was an opportunity for them to learn and interact about something they were interested in. Learning in this way fuels a student’s curiosity and give meaning to learning in an authentic way.
We returned to the high school’s greenhouse and spent another hour acclimating the fish to the temperature and pH of their new tank. From each day forward, these students will need to monitor the pH, temperature, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates in the tank which contains about 175 gallons of water. In addition to monitoring water quality, the fish will need to be fed five to six times per day. A challenge that will face the students in the very near future will be how to hold the water temperature at 80 degrees since the tank is in a greenhouse that can reach temperatures near 100 degrees.
The second tank that is fish ready will be for perch that we will buy this coming weekend. Perch need to be held in a tank with a water temperature of about 70 degrees. These kids face many challenges in the near future in keeping these fish alive. These challenges will require them to use creativity to come up with solutions. Mistakes will be made but they will learn and adapt to keep this project going. It is a joy as a teacher to work in a meaningful environment where the goal in not just to pass a test.
If you want to try hydroponics but aren’t ready to take the plunge in a large system, download our Windowsill Hydroponics guide. We give you step by step instructions with photos that make it easy to follow and use for personal use, homeschooling, or in your classroom.