Seminole County Master Gardeners Introduce Hydroponics to Elementary School Students

This image was submitted by one of many successful students using this “Set and Forget” method. It can be adapted to a cost effective lesson for youth by using a gallon jug as your container.

Blog by Rudy White, volunteer Master Gardener

Hydroponics for Youth

Beginning in 2017, continuing into 2018, Seminole County Master Gardeners introduced a new hydroponics workshop into several Seminole County elementary schools. The workshop for grades 1-4 is a spin-off of the “Set and Forget Hydroponics” workshop for adults conducted several times annually by the Seminole County Extension Agent for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems.

In the span of about 45 minutes, students construct a hydroponics lettuce planter from a re-cycled plastic milk jug and several other recycled materials collected variously by master gardeners, students, teachers, parents and others. Students set their personalized planters, complete with lettuce seeds in a sunny location on the school grounds and observe its growth for several weeks.

Teaching STEM using Gallon Jug Hydroponics

STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) teachers have contributed ideas for teaching points, with at least one STEM teacher adopting the project and conducting the workshop for all six of her 3rd grade classes. While the workshop can be completed in as little as 45 minutes, teachers with vision have imagined ways to continue demonstrating teaching points about math, science, agriculture, nutrition, time management, team work and other topics during several weeks of student observations in an outdoor setting. Once teachers determine that the teaching points at school are exhausted, students take their planters home with mature lettuce to show and share with their family and friends.

The next phase of the “lettuce in a jug” project is to develop a “take home kit” for students to plant additional crops at home, hopefully to inspire their extended family members to help them grow some of their own food, and to recycle materials in a meaningful way.

In addition to the “lettuce in a jug” project, Seminole County Master Gardeners have assisted some teachers to master other types of hydroponic systems, both outdoors and in the classroom under lights.

The hydroponics projects in Seminole County elementary schools are a subset of a broader array of school garden projects supported by the Seminole County Master Gardeners under the general guidance of the Seminole County Extension Residential Horticulture Agent, who is also the Master Gardener Coordinator for the county.

For more information about hydroponics in Seminole County, contact Hannah Wooten hwooten@ufl.edu

For more information about the Seminole County Master Gardener program, contact Kaydie McCormick kmccormick@ufl.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *