Did you know fish can jump out of a tank and die? GrowNextGen teacher leader and Carroll High School teacher Todd Tayloe shared what he’s learned the hard way about aquaponics and hydroponics in the classroom.

Tayloe gave this presentation at the 2023 Science Education Council of Ohio’s Science Symposium.
“I learned some not-so-great things to do last year,” he admitted. His goal in starting this project was to bring some kind of farming into the classroom to help his students learn more about agriculture-related jobs.

He explained the various types of hydroponics set-ups, and showed how he used the most common one, the nutrient film technique. In this set up, water is pumped into the system, then it drains down and is aerated with an air stone. He said he’d tried growing with dirt his first year, but “it was messy”.

Tayloe combined aquaponics (farming fish) with hydroponics to create a closed system. Fish waste provides nutrients for the plants. He used perch the first year, but is having more success with tilapia this year. His system produces lettuce that goes to the cafeteria salad bar.

He recommended “hustling” to get donated supplies—“Many people will say no; many won’t answer; but eventually someone will say yes!” Start up can be costly, and maintaining system is also expensive. He was able to get many supplies donated at first but is finding it more difficult to get sustaining support.

Eli Lipman from Toledo Public Schools, Shane Allison from Northridge Local Schools, and another teacher all won hydroponic grow kits to set up in their classroom!