KidsGardening is excited to share the launch of a new educator guide - Discovering Through Hydroponics developed in partnership with our amazing partners The National Farm to School Network and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation as part of the GroMoreGood Initiative.
Discovering Through Hydroponics is a lesson and resource guide for K-2nd grade educators who are interesting in using hydroponic garden systems as a way to teach plant fundamentals. With a focus on hands-on activities the lessons are designed to encourage student-led discovery.
Why use hydroponic gardens with young children? Here are just a few reasons we have observed:
- Growing plants in hydroponic systems with young children (rather than exclusively through more traditional soil-based methods) allows them to understand plant needs at a deeper level. They discover the amazing skill of our green friends to adapt to different growing conditions.
- It gives them the opportunity to engage in science, technology, engineering design, and math through the practical lens of fulfilling the essential job of growing food.
- Hydroponic growing systems are actively being explored as a solution for growing fresh fruits and vegetables in densely populated urban areas, in water insecure deserts, and even as a way to help increase home food production. This experience gives them a chance to think about food system challenges and solutions.
- Hydroponic gardens can be installed in the classroom and provide a tool for observing plant growth closely and regularly.
- Kids think it is fun! Hydroponics is new for many and their excitement and motivation inspires learning (Adults think it is fun too! It is new for a lot of them also).
Please note, the guide does not try to place value on one type of growing method over another (hydroponic vs. soil-based growing techniques), but rather tries to engage students in the process of evaluating the pros and cons of different growing systems and the importance of thinking outside the box when looking to secure a sustainable food system. The goal is to convey that the mission to find ways to grow food most efficiently in terms of natural resources and space available — while also providing access to bountiful, healthy fresh foods to all people, regardless of where they live — is absolutely critical for all of us and our food system.
This guide joins our previous guide, Exploring Hydroponics that was written to support 3rd-5th grade educators. Both are available electronically for FREE from KidsGardening and National Farm to School Network. We sincerely hope you will enjoy using this guide as much as we enjoyed writing it!