Aquaponics for Schools
A transition to a more economically, culturally, socially and environmentally developed society requires investment in people, especially in the more youthful and youth strata of the population. It is therefore a priority to raise awareness and training of these individuals at a stage in their life where they are most receptive to knowledge and innovation, as well as to environmental concerns and the preservation of our natural resources.
Environmental concerns and the objectives of preserving natural biodiversity can not be dissociated from the needs of economic growth, employment and social aspects. Sensitization to the environment, without social and economic sustainability bases, will never materialize, because it is part of an autistic vision that forgets and conflicts with human needs, personal concerns and immediate needs for self-preservation.
Aquaponics, when taught to children, youngsters and adults, awakens the productive natural instinct of the human being, in the best possible way, since it is based on principles of natural production and sustainability at the most varied levels.
By changing the way we produce food and make it available on the market, we are developing not only the economy, but also our health, our autonomy as a country or region, our employability, our literacy and preservation of natural environment, alleviating the pressure on it.
For all this, it makes more and more sense to teach AQUAPONICS.
Aquaponics Iberia has been developing initiatives to introduce the theme and practice of aquaponics in schools, with students and teachers, encouraging the exploration of this production technique that arouses an immense curiosity, interest and the combination of the most varied disciplines of school learning.
The experiments, already developed by Aquaponics Iberia, allow us to conclude that aquaponics, when properly implemented within an educational institution, allows to integrate the whole school community, involving teachers, students in the various age groups and parents. There are many examples of school aquaponics projects around the world. In Portugal, it is worth mentioning the initiative developed at the B + S Bishop D. Ferreira Cabral School in Santana, Madeira, with the collaboration of Aquaponics Iberia, a project proposed and locally oriented by Orlando Rodrigues, together with teachers and school students.
The set of initiatives developed in schools aims to provide participants with knowledge about the main techniques and methodologies of aquaponics, sensitizing the importance of this modern and sustainable food production system that combines aquaculture and agricultural techniques and which, due to their characteristics, promotes environmental sustainability, the preservation of natural resources and the production and consumption of natural and healthy food.
School Farming project combines the following ingredients and objectives: (click the image)
At the end of the implementation of a school aquaponics project, students and teachers will master the theoretical and practical aspects that allow to develop the practice of the most common processes related to the planning, maintenance and exploration of an aquaponic system as a productive factor. It will be up to teachers to take advantage of the multidisciplinarity of aquaponics to use it as an instrument for learning the subjects they intend to teach.
The transmission of theoretical and practical knowledge of aquaponics, especially directed to the age groups of the target segments, allows to explore and to teach in a practical way a vast group of disciplines simultaneously, as biology, botany, ichthyology, symbiotic aspects, microbiology, fishkeeping, aquaculture, agriculture, hydroponics, nutrition, physics, chemistry, ecology, conservation, mathematics, languages (in research and readings), etc.
We provide schools with an aquaponics systems in a greenhouse that allow the maintenance and continuation of teaching to school groups, not only during the project execution phase, but also in the following academic years, stimulating in students not only the previously mentioned knowledge disciplines, as well as the responsibility of dealing with living beings, food production, scientific attitude, entrepreneurship, managing a small ecosystem, as well as a productive unit that requires an organization and planning care. The focus on saving, rationalizing and recycling water, as well as the absence of waste and preservation of natural resources and biodiversity, are key issues to raise awareness and teach, since they are closely linked to the concept of aquaponics.
Assigning a certain degree of autonomy to the group of students who will maintain and exploit the system will instill a certain degree of responsibility and understanding, since they will be responsible for a system whose outputs will result directly from the balance and good management and maintenance of the system. The good practices, the rigor and the commitment with which they will face the tasks and responsibilities assumed, will dictate the success of the results and the productivity of the aquaponic system.
After the installation of the system and start-up, the Aquaponics Iberia team carries out a brief theoretical-practical training session, one part of which will be directed to the teachers who will be involved in the project, and another to the students who will also be initially involved.
For both groups, the training will have a theoretical component in room and a practical component inside the greenhouse, with practical activities related to the use of equipment and maintenance of the system.
Elementary school students
Middle and High school students
Installation and Equipment
Aquaponics Iberia has different solutions of aquaponic installations adapted to different spaces and conditions commonly available for schools. Due to its size, versatility and possibilities, the 16 m2 aquaponics system model is, in most cases, the ideal solution for schools. The complete installation includes greenhouse, aquaculture, hydroponic and plant germination equipment and materials.
The system, when in operation and properly matured, has the capacity to produce different types of vegetables daily, as long as the maintenance and productive activity obtains the due involvement of students, with the monitoring of some teachers. The vegetables to be produced in the system may include common salad veggies, like lettuce, aromatic herbs, some legumes and fruit plants.
As far as fish are concerned, the species usually chosen is koi carp, because it is an attractive and ornamental fish and also because it is an omnivorous species, and can be fed with vegetable protein, so as to dispense animal protein in its diet (less impact on wild fish populations).