Automated Aquaponics Greenhouse: a Student Project

I have a project that might be interesting to you. I am hoping to make a bold request. I hope it will be useful to our current students, but also to show what school could be in the future. Let me give you some rational.

Too many students do not have any idea what they want to do after high school. Many have heard of engineering, but have no idea what it is. Many students believe that subjects are isolated and so you do not need to know science if you are in business, nor do you need language for comp sci. etc… The community generally thinks that school should be the way it was when they went to school and are pretty disconnected from the school. Students do not see much of a connection between school and real life. Students need more connections to universities so that they make this important decision based on experience rather than a picture on a brochure or where their friends are going.

I would like to create a project that would blur the lines between the courses, allow the community into school, show the connection between school and real life and give students a good idea of “engineering thinking”.

I would like for the science 12 class to engineer an automated aquaponics green house at RHS. Our green house suffers terribly during the holidays because no one is around to tend it. I would like to use cafeteria food to feed some fish, have the fish process the food, move their waste to feed the plants in soil-less containers and use the food for the breakfast club or the local food bank.

I would like my students to build sensors and pumps that would monitor water flow, temperature, pH, nitrates etc… And then make adjustments as required. If the water level got too low, a pump would turn on. If the temperature got to high, a window would open. If the PH got to high, a bit of acid would drip in. Alerts could be sent to smartphones that a person needs to attend to it. A web cam could monitor the situation.

Posters outside would show the chemistry and biology. An economics study could show if this is reasonable vs traditional gardening. We would want to publicize this to the papers, TV and community.

We need biology, chemistry, environmental science, and river experts.

I do not know how to do any of this, which means there is a wonderful opportunity to have community mentors. I also have no budget for this. I would love to have small groups of students work on different aspects of this project. I would like there to be mentors available so that students could tweet, email, Skype or phone experts in the various fields. We will need to design and build the stands, write the codes, build the pump automation, and deal with the sensors. We will need app creation, web space etc…

I would like to present it to the students in a big light. Suppose we were to colonize the moon. We would need food while we were there. But we will want to expend our energy doing other things than growing our food. It could also be attached to the school project we are doing around a natural disaster. Suppose Riverview were cut off from the rest of the world. How would we survive. A big piece of this is growing food.

A number of years ago, a friend of mine created a video to show how school could be different. There is a second video that shows a person doing something similar on the aquaponics tech . I wonder how close we can come to these two videos??

We can create a world winning education project right here at RHS. More importantly, it could be a project that helps inspire students for their futures and shows what school could/should look like to teachers and schools around the world

I hope you are interested. Perhaps we could chat?