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CCISD 2014-2015 Press Release

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League City, Texas 77573 

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May 19, 2015

Clear Brook High School Students Enjoy the Fruits (and Vegetables) of Their Labor

The room was a flurry of activity with chopping, mixing, stirring and pouring. It certainly was not a typical science lab, but this was no average science class.  AP Environmental Science students at Clear Brook High School hurriedly prepared lunch including blackened tilapia, fish tacos, fresh salsa, lemon dill rice and strawberry shortcake, all using fish, vegetables and fruits they harvested themselves. The meal was the culmination of a semester of work in aquaponics gardening, a food production system that combines raising aquatic animals with cultivating plants in a single water environment.

The idea was the brainchild of Emilie Olivier, science teacher at Clear Brook High School. “In teaching aquatic science, I teach my students about very similar topics and they maintain aquarium tanks,” Olivier said. “I have always wanted to take that to the next level.” A Teacher Innovation Grant from the Clear Creek Education Foundation made the next level possible.

Students designed and built the structure themselves. After being shown photos and videos of aquaponics systems, the students did their own research and created the grow beds. What resulted was a habitat filled with a variety of fish, fruits and vegetables. While building and tending to the garden, students also learned about the real-world applications of such a system. “This type of agriculture is growing around the world due to an increasing human population,” Olivier said. “It was a great hands-on project that allowed them to see how aquaponics and hydroponics can be a very good alternative to traditional farming, especially in large cities.”

The process also proved to be a lesson in problem solving. As challenges arose with the aquaponics system, whether it was a leaking habitat or plants that were not thriving in the environment, students were tasked with finding solutions to the problem. Working together, the students ensured the success of the aquaponics garden.

As the project came to an end, Olivier wanted to give the students one final event to summarize their months of hard work. Using the fish, fruits and vegetables harvested, the students prepared an extensive meal for themselves and fellow students. As they enjoyed the fruits and vegetables of their labor, Olivier reflected on the implications of the project and its effect on her students. “I feel that they have a much better understanding of the difficulty world leaders face in trying to feed a planet of 7 billion people,” Olivier said. “They were able to see the whole process from the
beginning to the end, and since I involved them in all decisions including the payment and ordering process, they have a true appreciation for how much work goes into making and growing food.”

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