West Oahu Teachers Invited To Aquaponics Training Workshop

With the rising interest in organic foods and community sustainability, Malama Learning Center will sponsor an aquaponics training session March 2 for West Oahu teachers.

Considered a cross between aquaculture and hydroponics, the three-day aquaponics course is open to K-12 teachers from Leeward Oahu schools, and registration deadline is Feb. 18. Future dates are April 27 and Aug. 24.

Attendance at all three sessions is mandatory in order for teachers to receive their free kit to build a basic aquaponics system for their classrooms. DOE teachers also may receive three professional development credits from the course.

Malama Learning Center executive and program director Pauline Sato explains that teachers will build and implement their own aquaponics systems in between sessions.

Aquaponics has shown promise as a sustainable food source, as it involves integrating aquaculture and hydroponics where fish wastewater is utilized as a nutrient source for plants. This means fertilizer dependence is minimized, which results in fewer pest issues and diminished space constraints.

“If (aquaponics is) integrated into the curriculum, students are bound to become more interested in learning and applying what they learn to real life,” Sato explained. “In fact, they could even eat the food they grow, which is a way to bring health into the discussion, which is a key issue for Leeward communities.”

Aquaponics systems have been seen in classrooms and backyards, but are few in number. The goal of the workshop is to equip teachers with learning strategies to integrate into their classrooms, in order to inform future generations of the importance of a sustainable community.

“Education is a core service of the Malama Learning Center, and we believe that teacher training is an essential part of reaching students with environmental education,” Sato said, also noting that the center has conducted educator workshops in the past with much success.

“Aquaponics is a way to bring a lot of subject areas together, as well as to teach lessons in living more sustainably,” Sato added.

“It’s very hands-on because you are growing not only plants but also fish, and all kinds of lessons can be taught from science to math to agriculture … it’s boundless.”

By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to explain how aquaponics works, describe plants and animals that can be grown successfully with aquaponics, monitor water quality of the system, assemble and maintain a small-scale system, and develop at least three standards-based lesson plans using aquaponics.

“We enjoy working with teachers who care for the environment, as well as their students, and want to explore new ways to teach,” Sato said.

Course fee is $75. For more information, visit malamalearningcenter.org.