In January 2018, the aquaponics program moved into a new 4,000 square foot on-campus greenhouse. The greenhouse, with its attached 2,000 square foot classroom and laboratory facilities, is now the home for classroom instruction, student & faculty research, and a 3600-gallon DWC production growing system.
During the 2015-2016 academic year, Savage and Delanoy began teaching aquaponics using an Engineering Design Process (EDP) approach. This iterative or cyclical approach to problem solving allows students to utilize and build on their “scientific method” skills, while solving practical problems associated with designing and building small-scale aquaponics systems in a classroom or greenhouse setting. Teaching with this approach requires that the students develop mastery of basic science concepts associated with aquaponics, the technology integrated into even the smallest of systems, and the engineering principles (and required math skills) needed to complete a successful design under given constraints. In short, the engineering design process approach provides the opportunity to include STEM (science-technology-engineering-mathematics) education as the basis for a hands-on course, such as “Introduction to Aquaponics.”
Since the 2016-2017 academic year, Savage and Delanoy have relied heavily on the “Small-Scale Aquaponic Food Production” UN-FAO technical manual as their primary “textbook” for their students. They have developed STEM-focused lecture, assessment, and lab-type activities using the content of this document. Lesson plans are reviewed and modified each year, and work is ongoing to correlate these lesson plans and activities with curriculum standards (notably, the Next Generation Science Standards, NGSS).