US (NY): Wantagh Middle School students use aquaponics to grow food

Sal Mulé is a science teacher at Wantagh Middle School, where his lesson plan is brought to life using the latest innovations in technology. The class, Modern Food, is an elective class where students have a hands-on approach to growing food indoors in small spaces.
"You're in there, you're working, you're doing it, you're watching how the plants grow, how the fish grow," says eighth grader Alexis Schoenfeld.

The plants grow in nutrient-rich water instead of soil and under grow lights instead of sunshine. The method is called hydroponics. It's a revolutionary way to grow plants in small spaces.

"It's not the future, it's already happening," Sal Mulé explains. Hydroponics is used to grow many of the produce options found in stores, like Canada greenhouse-grown tomatoes, which can grow year-round despite the country's cold climate.

Many schools are using hydroponics as part of the lesson plan, but Mulé's hydroponics lab is one of a kind. Unlike other programs that use premade hydroponic kits, Mulé built all of this on his own. This gives students a chance to see an assortment of different ways plants can grow with hydroponics, and it teaches problem-solving when things go wrong. "When I first came to the class, it was a little intimidating because of all of this stuff. It's a different way of teaching than a lot of the teachers now," explains eighth grader Gavyn Scherr.


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