Pirates Go Green With Garden

Katherine Kurbatov

Advanced Placement classes at Boca Ciega High School go up and beyond typical, dreary classes and go in depth with the science involved in the growth of plants. This includes hands-on learning (a giant Koi Pond, fertilizer, and the hardworking minds of students) and other techniques to get students learning. The head of the science department, Ms. Moskel and the AP Environmental Science teacher, Mrs. Widener received a “Splash Grant” from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), who provides teachers with funding to enhance student knowledge of freshwater resource issues.

If you’ve been in Ms. Moskel’s classroom lately you might have seen the giant aquaculture tank full of fish in their classroom. Students and teachers alike installed this tank that supports hydroponics and establishes a native plant garden fed by fish waste. The kids maintain and harvest the garden which will create a huge opportunity for our current and future students to study ecological principles in ecosystems and how technology find a more environmentally-friendly way to grow more plants.

This project allows the kids to go to the Port Manatee Fish Hatchery, where they get to study real-world applications of animal and plant life cycles, population dynamics of fish, biogeochemical cycles, data collection and data analysis. “Not only will students learn about freshwater resource issues, but they will also grow organic Florida native vegetables and fruits. Our science classes will cooperate with the Spanish classes to cook ethnic foods with tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, and etc,” said Widener.

The students water the garden by sections; one with tap water and no fertilizer, one with miracle grow, and the other is fertilized with the “fish poo” water, which “contains nitrates that are good for plants,” Ms. Moskel says. It runs along the side of the school to the parking lot and is visible to all staff, students and visitors.

The main question is: Does natural fertilizer make plants grow faster than miracle grow? Hopefully we’ll find out soon with the information gathered by students. This valuable information may influence students later in years to assist the growth of plants for the better.

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