How’s It Growing? A 2nd Grade STEAM Project

Using Hydroponics to Create More Sustainable Agriculture

2nd Grade used a Hydroponic System to plant a garden without soil!

In the process we learned:

What hydroponics is, Why it is important, and How it works.

Here are some pictures from our gardening and learning adventure:

What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is simply the process of growing fruits and vegetables (and even flowers) in water or other mediums, but without any dirt or soil.  Other mediums include sand, coconut fiber, gravel, etc.  Without the use of soil, nutrients are added directly to water for plants to grow and mature. Hydroponics limits the amount of water used as much of the water is recycled within the system.

Why is Hydroponics Important?

Hydroponics is not just important, but necessary in many situations.  In the midst of a drought, hydroponics can help grow crops to feed the population by limiting water usage as water is pumped and recycled.  Additional water is seldom necessary and only uses a fraction of what a normal garden uses.  In locations where sunlight is limited, hydroponics can be used to grow food, flowers, and all types of plants indoors without the natural sunshine.  Artificial lights can be directed towards the hydroponic system and assist in photosynthesis. In urban developments and urban dense areas, hydroponics can be used to vertically grown plants and food indoors and on rooftops without the need and the weight of soil.  Hydroponic solutions do not require inground irrigation systems that can change the shape and characters of the land.

How Does Hydroponics Work?

When setting up a hydroponic system one must consider the different types of hydroponic systems.  For the purpose of our assignment, the 2nd grade class used Ebb and flow systems.  This system required placing the plants over a grow bed with a water reservoir underneath.  A submersed pump is placed in a main water reservoir, where most of the water is held.  The pump acts as both a pump and a timer.  Every 15 minutes (or whatever the class has elected) the pump will activate and circulate water throughout the entire system and bring nutrient rich waters to the plants.  The Ebb and Flow System grows easily and faster than other hydroponic systems. This system can be set up manually without a pump.  If the manual option is chosen, nutrient rich water needs to be flooded into the water reservoir under the plants on a daily basis to ensure that plants get enough nutrients.

What to try this at home?  The lesson we used can be found here:  Hydroponic Gardening – A STEAM Lesson