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Guest Writers: Mrs. Keirn’s Class

On February 2nd, 2018, students from Mr. Walker’s class met in his shop to harvest the lettuce that they had planted earlier in the trimester. The lettuce was grown in an aquaponics system over the course of about 79 days. Mr. Walker’s students set up and maintained the tank, plants, and fish over the course of the trimester. Students from two of Mr. Walker’s classes learned how the fish and plants work together to create a healthy system.

While the project provided hands on experience and made the class more interesting, the lettuce that was harvested was not an economical choice. Mr. Walker estimated that the lettuce cost about $95. The biggest was the lights that hung over the tank. Mr. Walker stated that the cost would have been more reasonable if more lettuce had been grown on the system at once.

The agriculture classes grew lettuce successfully in an aquaponics system, but now Mr. Doty and Mr. Messacar will be continuing the project in their science classes with hydroponics systems. While neither set up supports the plants using soil, hydroponics provides nutrients that are dissolved in water and then applied to the roots of the plants, while aquaponics uses fish waste to provide many of the nutrients to the plants.

Drs. Wang, Knobloch, and Tormoehlen obtained a grant to give Indiana schools an opportunity to teach science, technology, engineering, math, and agriculture through a STEM challenge. The grant provided teachers from La Porte High School, Westville High School, and South Central High School a week of professional development over the summer as well as ideas for lessons to integrate the STEM subjects into one project. All three teachers, along with the project sponsors from Purdue and local community members plan to host a showcase at the end of the school year.

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