Marana Unified School District

Tortolita Middle School’s Service Learning Class will celebrate the completion of their Aquaponic System during a dedication ceremony May.

Aquaponics is the method of growing crops and fish together in a re-circulating system where the crops grow vertically on raised beds. This new system along with the Tortolita School Garden will increase the growth of organic herbs and produce – as well as tilapia and catfish.

At the dedication ceremony, students will recognize the Marana Foundation for Educational Excellence and State Farm for their financial support of this project. The Aquaponic project was funded by a $2,000 Grant from the Marana Foundation for Educational Excellence. The installation of the 450-gallon Rainwater Collection Tank was funded by a $1,000 Youth Service America State Farm Good Neighbor Student Achievement Grant. In attendance will be Lynette Brunderman, facilitator for the Marana Foundation for Educational Excellence and Cheryl Willis-Blakes, State Farm Philanthropy and Community Relations Representative.

This service-learning project expands student awareness of food sources as well as the wide variety of delicious, healthy foods available to eat. The Rainwater Collection Tank enhances efforts to become water-conscious desert gardeners with the goal to become water self-sufficient. Every Tortolita Middle School student will potentially be impacted by the aquaponic system. The seventh and eighth grade Science classes will be involved in the daily maintenance of the system by checking the PH of the water and replenishing supplies. This system will become part of the science curriculum offering a rich and engaging way for students to meet the Common Core standards for ecology and chemistry. It provides students the opportunity to experience hands-on, authentic learning. Math applications abound – from simply measuring and weighing the fish, tracking weekly growth of the plants, calculating the number of bunches of greens possible per square foot of garden space, to bookkeeping and accounting of eventual sales of produce and fish. The language arts classes can collect and write recipes, as well as research folktales and legends surrounding a people’s food sources. Social studies classes can offer a lesson about social justice and food supplies – locally, nationally and world-wide.

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