What can be done without soil? The exploration of hydroponics provides a counter view to traditional soil-based agriculture and the class will experiment with this technology to grow even more produce with less space and less water. This makes the water source even more important.
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4.1 Where’s the Dirt?
The Magic of Hydroponics (Beginner)
Hydroponic systems are a true game changer particularly for urban farmers with limited outdoor grow space. In this lesson, students will dig deep into the functional design of the ZipGrow tower system to better understand just how it does its job.
X versus Y (Intermediate)
Vertical and horizontal hydroponic systems each have their advantages. In this lesson, students will explore the attributes of each system to determine which is the most efficient.
ZipGrow Towers 2.0 (Advanced)
The ZipGrow Farm Wall system revolutionized the hydroponics community. But that’s not where the story ends. This lesson challenges students to improve on the design in any way they can.
Inside the vertical hydroponics system
(Video) Horizontal vs. Vertical Farming
4.2 Liquid Diet
There are numerous nutrients that plants require for effective development. Each nutrient promotes a specific function or collection of functions. In this lesson, students will explore the macro and micro nutrients essential to plant development.
Just the Right Amount (Intermediate)
Each nutrient serves a specific function in terms of plant development. In this lesson, students will explore each macronutrient and the impact it has on a plant’s development.
What Does Organic Mean? (Advanced)
We love to put labels on everything. And one of the current debates in food production circles is whether hydroponic produce can be called organic. In this lesson, students will debate this topic to see if they can reach a consensus.
4.3 Heads Up
Plants That Grow Well in Hydroponics Systems (Beginner)
Not everything grows well in a hydroponic system. In this lesson, students will explore varieties that thrive in hydroponics and the limitations it has for certain varieties.
Carrots on a Plane (Intermediate)
The idea of a bigger better mousetrap is something we embrace at Modern Steader and want to instill in each and every student. There is always room for improvement and this lesson asks students to improve on the ZipGrow towers to allow for root crop cultivation.
The Most Lucrative Varieties (Advanced)
Hydroponics allows for mono-cropping because the nutrient solution is under constant monitoring and adjustment. In this lesson, students will evaluate the annual revenue potential of numerous varieties in order to determine the most lucrative.
4.4 Going Vertical
Planting the Towers (Beginner)
Hydroponics provide tremendous flexibility in terms of space and seasonal usage. It also provides a simple process for transplanting young starts which students will learn to do effectively in this lesson.
Time to Build (Intermediate)
The process of transplanting young starts into the hydroponic towers is simple. In this lesson, students will design a table that will assist them in transplanting starts more efficiently.
Magical Plug Insertion Device (Advanced)
The need to replace a dead plant with a new flourishing plug is commonplace in the Lab. And being able to do so without removing the tower would be a time saver. In this lesson, students will design a tool to do just that.
4.5 Grow ANYWHERE!
Hydroponics offers the ability to grow food almost anywhere. In this lesson, students will discuss the countless locations where hydroponics could be used to grow food in their community.
Start Earlier and Finish Later (Intermediate)
Hydroponics provides indoor growing capabilities at scale for year round production. That trumps many outdoor gardens in terms of full year production potential. In this lesson, students will calculate the increase in production.
Bring It Back Home (Advanced)
At Modern Steader, we imagine a food system where everyone has the option of locally grown and organically produced food. In this lesson, students will discuss what it would take to local our food system once again.
4.6 Less is More
The space used by hydroponic systems is often less than that of a traditional raised planter to achieve the same production. In this lesson, students will calculate and compare the space used by each to reach a definitive conclusion on the efficiency of space use.
Go Big or Go Home (Intermediate)
The benefit of vertical hydroponic tower systems is that they occupy less space than vertical systems. In this lesson, students will take measurements, run the numbers, and calculate the maximum number of towers that will fit in their classroom.
Can I Interest You in a Side Salad? (Advanced)
Lunchrooms all over the country are moving away from the frozen patties warmed in a box in what used to be the kitchen. Salad bars are gaining popularity and this lesson tasks students will calculating just how many towers it would take to provide salads for every student.
4.7 Edible Art
Hydroponics isn’t just a gateway to food production. These systems can be used to cultivate flowers and herbs often sought by the finer restaurants. In this lesson, students will explore the possibilities of growing plants as a work of art.
Make It Purdy (Intermediate)
There is abundant beauty in nature and that can be replicated in the Lab in a number of ways. This lesson commissions the students to create a piece of edible art for the Lab using a hydroponics tower set.
Come One, Come All (Advanced)
Edible art is popping up in small towns and big cities across the country. In this lesson, students have a chance to conceive, design, and deploy their own edible art installation right in their own community.
4.8 Testing, 1, 2, 3!
Hydroponic systems use less space, provide flexibility in terms of location, but they require a minimal level of oversight. In this lesson, students will learn how to test pH and nutrient levels in the system to maintain optimal levels.
Pitcher Perfect (Intermediate)
Perfect water contains micronutrients and carries a perfectly balanced pH. This lesson tasks students with creating perfect water for use in the Lab, something that closely mimics the value of rain water.
4.9 Epic Battle
Light versus Gravity (Beginner)
Plants are influenced by temperature, gravity, and light. Phototropism is the influence that light has on plants and is the focus of this lesson. Students will experiment with light to prove its influence exists.
Harness the Light (Intermediate)
Phototropism has a critical influence over plants constantly seeking the sun’s energy to power its metabolism. In this lesson, students will experiment with light to locate the tipping point for phototropism.
Just Like Darwin Did (Advanced)
Sometimes the seemingly complex can be proven and understood with the simplest of experiments. In this lesson, students will attempt to prove the existence of auxin by repeating Charles Darwin’s experiment.
4.10 Food Desert
It’s time to take this show on the road and visit a local grocery store to explore the varieties that are available. This lesson asks students to search their local grocer for organic, non-GMO, and locally grown varieties of produce.
Weighed, Measured, and Found Wanting (Intermediate)
The phrase “food desert” is a scary term and it affects more than 25 million Americans. There is a textbook definition and we have our own at Modern Steader but this lesson asks students to define it for themselves.
Are Our Classrooms the Solution? (Advanced)
We created the Edible Learning Lab with the singular focus of bringing edible education into every single classroom. But what if moderate production in each school could reach beyond education and actually solve the food desert problem? This lesson asks students to consider this very thought.
Equipment Recommendations from Modern Steader
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