We are so excited to be starting our second year of the "Aquaponics Across the Spectrum" program at Edison Intermediate Center in South Bend. Last year we began implementing the after school program for fifth graders, and it went so well, we decided to do it again! It is always rewarding to see the community involved and to spark the interest of science and aquaponics that we have at Green Bridge Growers in others. Aquaponics Across the Spectrum is inclusive to both autistic and non-autistic students, a great way to build relationships between students outside of the traditional classroom setting. The program will run Thursdays after school through April, concluding with an opportunity for up to 14 Edison students to demonstrate all they have learned and their final products to their loved ones at a science fair.
This program has some wonderful members of the community involved who help make it all possible. Amy Gillan, a professor at Saint Mary’s College, has been instrumental in getting the program off the ground by designing a fun and interactive curriculum for the students at Edison. Amy has refined the curriculum since last year and believes that this year’s program really involves the best practices to reach the students and have them really grasp the concept of aquaponics and environmental stewardship.
Dr. Gillan has the help of two Notre Dame students, Henri Chung and Yaa Dankwa, who will aid in making sure the program runs as smoothly as possible. Henri and Yaa both have backgrounds in science and will be in the classroom helping the students understand not only the technicalities of how aquaponics work, but also how applicable and exciting science can be! Both Dr. Gillan and Yaa have expressed their desire for the students to develop a love of science from the program. The students will be doing hands-on work while building their own aquaponic systems, and the hope is to inspire a confidence in the students as they approach real life problems with science and engineering. At Green Bridge Growers, we want to instill the value of sustainability in our community. With the Aquaponics Across the Spectrum program, we are able to reach children and encourage them to take action in their own lives to become more sustainable now and in the future.
The COMD Saint Mary’s students will be responsible for transitioning the Edison students from the school day to the Aquaponics Across the Spectrum activities. The students will be working as equal partners and will learn from one another along the way. The goal of the COMD students is to help facilitate good interactions and aid the students in communicating their scientific findings to their peers daily and to others at the science fair. Susan believes education should be individualized and the COMD students will bring this individualization to the program, determining what needs to be adjusted to make each Edison student as successful as possible. The Saint Mary’s students are looking forward to sharing this hands-on, meaningful experience with the Edison fifth graders!
We all cannot wait for the Aquaponics Across the Spectrum program to get going! It is always a pleasure to see children getting excited about science and to share our passion for aquaponics. This year’s program looks like it will be a great time for everyone involved and we are eager to see where the program takes us in the years to come.
- Erin Taylor