#Smiles: St. Stephens High School students build, grow food in aquaponics system

A series to share #smiles across our community through the achievements of our local youth, brought to you by Rendezvous Dental.

Earlier this school year, St. Stephens High School Industrial Arts class students assembled an aquaponics system and have been growing rainbow swiss chard, cucumbers, and radishes in the system.

“The goal is to grow food to share with our school, and teach students how to build a food system that can help sustain them in their homes,” said Industrial Arts teacher Jason Lucas.

h/t Jason Lucas

An aquaponics system is “a combination of fish and plant production using aquaculture and hydroponics systems,” according to the USDA.

Students had the opportunity to enjoy their harvest from the system in early March, shared Jason. “The inspiration for the aquaponics system was to teach students how the process works. To show them that they can grow food for their families, and possibly use this knowledge for starting a business in the future.”

The students really like hands-on activities so they enjoyed building the system that was donated to the school by DEMO Aquaponics, Jason explained. “It took just two days to build once we had all the parts and pieces.” They were able to find most parts and pieces locally, but had to order a few online.

During the class students have learned to maintain the system by feeding the goldfish, checking water levels, checking the air pump functionality, and running water tests to check the nitrate, nitrite, pH, and ammonia levels are correct. When school is not in session Jason maintains the system.

Future projects for the Industrial Arts class include building storage cages in the High School gym area, and building a larger “Crows Nest” for the football field, Jason explained. “We do a lot of practical skills training in this class such as; drywall replacement, toilet installs, toilet repair, sink installs, electrical outlet installations, copper pipe soldering, woodworking projects, and more.”

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