Students in pre-K through fifth grade at Okatie Elementary got hands on experience developing their scientific inquiry skills through a grant entitled “Go Fish” funded with the help of the Bargain Box of Hilton Head. Bree Lauffer, a STEM Lab teacher, submitted the grant application to create a hydroponic garden for students to observe and study in the classroom.
What is a hydroponic garden? It is a method of growing plants without soil and a great way to nurture a variety of edible plants indoors.
The students had the opportunity to plan, conduct and collect ongoing data to compare the hydroponic garden with and without fish to garden plants. Real world science was practiced as students collected both formal and informal data during this unit of study.
Bree said that the students were excited each day upon entering the classroom to eagerly observe the changes in the hydroponic tanks. They watched as the seeds developed and the fish were added to one tank. Most students were surprised to see the plants grow despite the lack of soil. This project also helped to increase the students’ awareness of the interdependency plants have with animals as well as their awareness of efficient data collections while expanding their understanding of effective plant growth conditions.
Some of the greatest successes in the garden were with cilantro and parsley.
These budding scientists learned how to properly plan and conduct an investigation to determine what plants need to grow while actively engaging in experiential learning opportunities while exploring their own questions and participating in ongoing investigations further honing their scientific skills.
One of the most exciting aspects of this project is that this grant will have impact on students for years to come at Okatie Elementary.
Bree looks forward to exploring different plants in the future as well as expanding the learning opportunities for students. During the 2022-23 school year, Bree plans for early elementary students to begin measuring the herbs’ growth and older students to learn the importance of the pH levels of the water.
Firsthand observation and hands on learning opportunities have helped science literally “come to life” for the students of Okatie Elementary through their hydroponic garden and the creativity of their teacher.
We love to hear and share the success stories of the projects funded through Innovative Teacher grants. And we look forward to the many projects that will be funded in the Fall 2023 grant cycle. So teachers and staff of Beaufort County public schools - apply today! Click here to submit your application.