Ms. Ging, sixth grade science teacher, and Mrs. Smithmyer, health and physical education teacher, are trying a new aeroponic garden to teach students about plants and nutrition. The garden is being used in Smithmyer’s seventh and eighth grade health classes and Ging’s sixth grade science classes.
The garden is called a Tower Garden. It uses aeroponics, the process of growing plants in an air or moist environment rather than soil. The water in the base of the garden has the nutrition the plants need to grow. There are spinach and basil plants growing in the garden. The water in the base of the garden goes up through a tube in the middle and pours down the sides to give the plants their nutrition and water. The four lights on the sides give the plants their light.
“I have used the Tower Garden before, I actually have one at home. I love having all the fresh produce to cook with and to be able to have healthy meals daily with it,” Smithmyer said.
Students are working on the garden in more than one way. In Ging’s class students are harvesting the plants, taste testing, and selling the plants. In Smithmyer’s classes, they are using the Tower Garden to bring their lessons to life. The students will be able to have lessons that are hands-on along with being able to create healthy meals. They will review the parts of the plants, discuss agriculture, nutrition, and the benefits of growing their own produce.
Smithmyer also plans on sharing the Tower Garden with other grades and with the elementary students too. She hopes that the 7th & 8th graders through their leadership class will do lessons/presentations for the elementary students.
The money for the hydroponic garden came from a grant from the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) written by Smithmyer and Ging. The 6th graders did a program with Pitt last year and it had a stipend for $1,000. The $1,000 was used to buy the garden.
Some things that will happen to the food after it is harvested are it will be sold to people, donated, cooked in the cafeteria, and other things.