Environmental Science Takes on Aquaponics


Gardening that involves… fish? The AP Environmental class is studying and creating a unique take on the traditional garden- aquaponics. Students have been hard at work, filling an aquarium in one of the biology classes to house guppies, and build a small herb garden on top of it. The idea is that the roots will grow down into the water with the fish, and constantly have access to water and fertilizer.

“It’s a fun way to watch plants grow. Students can learn more about interactive environments and how plants and animals cooperate in nature,” junior Elizabeth Lay said.

Every year students in the class are required to work on one major project throughout the course of the year, and come up with creative solutions to environmental issues around the school. This semester, however, the class all decided to all work on the aquaponics together. Gretchen Hubinger, the class’s advisor, believes that all of the students will benefit from working together and studying the system.

“I think that it’s gratifying for kids to see their ideas to come to fruition. We get to revisit the nitrogen cycle and water quality testing, as well as aquatic ecosystems. It also helps us bond more as a class,” Hubinger said.

Chives, basil, arugula, and parsley are all being grown using a separate hydroponic system, and held there until they are ready to be transferred to their final home- the aquaponics garden. While the students wait for the herbs to grow and become strong enough to plant permanently, they work on the aquarium to make sure conditions are just right for both the plants and the fish.

“Balancing the pH was hard because it was difficult to understand the needs for the wildlife. Analyzing what would be beneficial or not for the fish and facilitating nutrients for the fish were also a challenge,” junior Moriah Clock said.