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Students Create Aquaponic Garden in Classroom
Students Create Aquaponic Garden in Classroom

(L-R): Shelby Dorsaint, Jorden Courses-Nelson, Brianna Maligeri, Liam Harrington, Ciaran McNelis, Evan Sullivan 

It may not seem like spring outside quite yet, but it has officially sprung in Mrs. Kennedy's Environmental Science classroom. The students have been working together on a Capstone Project to design and build a sustainable hydroponic indoor garden. Now they are seeing the fruits of their labor right in the back of their classroom as seedlings are growing into robust plants. 

During the course of their regular class curriculum, students learned the adverse effects of mass farming and current agricultural practices which in ignited in them an interest in finding a more efficient way to grow our food.  With the support of the Red Bank Catholic administration and the RBC Capstone Department these six students launched their project and worked together to see their ideas come to life.  

As part of their research they attended a tour of local large-scale grower Kube-Pak, where they observed a mass production of germinated plugs.  They have been working side by side with RBC faculty member Mr. Bryan Nesci, who donated all materials through his company, Bare Root Garden. The students designed and constructed a Nutrient Film Technique hydroponic system which circulates a water nutrient mixture from a reservoir tank through a gutter system, reusing the water after it flows back into the tank. They built a two-tier shelving system to support the channels and a 27 gallon tote for the tank with a submersible pump to circulate the water through pvc pipe. To conserve power, they used an electric outlet timer to cycle the pump on and off throughout the day. 

Their overall goal is to optimize the system to produce the highest yield possible, and to donate the harvested produce to local food pantries. The students were very pleased with the completed project and look forward to harvesting the produce. Junior Liam Harrington said it "was a great experience to be able to turn a topic learned in class into a hands-on real life product that’s successful.” Senior Jorden Corsey-Nelson adds, “I love that we will be able to take what we’ve grown right in our classroom and give back to the community by donating the fresh produce.”