Hydroponics and Aquaponics are not only fast growing industries, they are increasingly being used as teaching tools in middle and high schools across the country.
While many schools have gardens, these systems offer a "wow" factor that gets students even more into the biology of growing plants. Additionally, because hydroponic and aquaponic systems are often indoors, they can be used as a teaching tool year-round, even in cold climates.
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Compared to traditional gardening, these growing systems offer a number of advantages as teaching tools:
- The plants grow faster. Students can more quickly see the fruits of their efforts as plants like lettuce can go from seed to harvest in half the time compared to growing outdoors.
- Easy to understand precision. Unlike soil gardening, where an understanding of how to best provide for plants takes a long time to build, one can be taught how to keep plants healthy in hydroponics or aquaponics in an hour. The pH needs to be between this and this. Etc.
- Room for experimentation. Due to the accelerated grow periods in these systems, students have more of an ability to experiment with nutrient blends, temperatures, and other inputs into the system and see the results faster.
- Reasons for learning are obvious. Unlike much of what students learn in school, the reasons for learning these growing methods are obvious – they create food.
- It's cool! At the end of the day, the biggest factor may just be that such systems of growing are novel and exciting. Students likely haven't been exposed to them, and the smell of growing plants, the feel of warm humidity on skin, and the vivid colors create a learning environment that is exciting to be in.