Introducing STEM to Kindergartners Through Aquaponics
On the beautiful morning of Aug. 23, 11 kindergarten students from Drexel Academy, located in north Tulsa, Oklahoma, explored aquaponics in their classroom. I introduced engineering and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) by sharing how aquaponics works and why it’s important to learn how nature works so we can overcome many challenges and protect our most precious resources. Students took apart an aquaponic system and discussed how each component is important. They even dismantled a pump and learned how centrifugal pumps work! Next, we converted an aquaponic system kit from a nutrient film technique designed aquaponic system into a media based ebb flow design to greatly improve the systems production potential.
Then, students passed around various herbs and created a plan for what plants they wanted to grow. Each student planted fresh cuttings of basil, oregano and rosemary as well as seeds of watercress, dill, Italian large leaf basil and cilantro.
Drexel Academy kindergarten teacher Catherine Meador later described the experience.
“We had so much fun and are excited to watch the herbs start growing!” Meador said.
“Your presentation was very engaging and interactive. It brought the cycle of the ecosystem to the kinders in a way that they can take ownership. Thank you for the jump start and the support!”
Aquaponics provides a wonderful learning tool for students to explore and engage with a natural ecosystem that continuously provides feedback as they interact. As students gain curiosity and start asking questions, teachers and mentors can capitalize on students owning their learning and guide them through the design process to gain critical thinking skills as well as stimulate interest in STEM. In this process, students can learn experientially and enthusiastically as they gain life skills and develop perseverance.