Students are harvesting lettuce, hot peppers, kale and celery from a hydroponics system in Steve Elwood’s science class at East Tipp Middle School. Students play an important role in monitoring the chemicals and growth of the plants in a water-based nutrient solution.
Elwood says his sixth grade students take measurements and collect data each week—all part of learning how to conduct a proper experiment.
“We are learning how to measure the water's pH, Ppm or parts per million of dissolved solids in the water, and the temperature,” says student Emersyn Crum. “We have learned what different plants look like and how fast the plants grow. It has been super fun to learn about the plants and how to grow them without soil.”
Classmate Margaret Wright enjoys using the equipment and watching how the plants change each week: “Hydroponics is an amazing and interesting way to grow your plants inside and an amazing way to teach people how they grow and how fast.”
“We have grown a lot of food ever since September,” student Akshad Rana says. “We have harvested some lettuce and we tasted some, it tasted exactly the same as regular lettuce.”
Thanks to a grant from the Lafayette Breakfast Optimist Club Elwood added a new drip irrigation system to the lab. “The students will have the ability to compare the new system to the nutrient film technique we already had in place,” says Elwood. “They will collect data on growth rates to see which one is most beneficial and cost effective.”
Elwood is also expanding their floating garden offerings to include cherry tomatoes, a variety of sweet and hot peppers, bok choy and different herbs.