This past week College Bound teamed up with Wediko’s ESY Program at the McKinley School in Boston to learn about the science behind solar powered hydroponic plants. The mission of the College Bound Program is to empower students to become positive change agents in their schools and communities. Through a Social Justice and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) lens, students learn about a variety of important issues impacting their communities. Michael Barnett, a professor conducting research at Boston College, headed the project, using his recently awarded $1.2 million National Science Foundation grant to implement and study hydroponic farming. Barnett comments that students who grow their own food are more likely to develop not only critical thinking and analytical skills but also an interest in science and healthier food habits.
Hydroponic planting is a method of farming which uses mineral nutrient solutions in water instead of soil. The plants can then be stacked above one another and can be operated inside, allowing fresh and natural food to be grown year-round. This type of farming allows students to produce a substantial amount of food even in a cramped city environment. In some cases, hydroponic plants have the potential to grow up to 40 plants in just two square feet of space. The use of hydroponics can also be incorporated at home, as well as learning the different techniques at the college. This method can help to ensure that the plants are able to grow just as efficiently as they would do if they were planted in soil. Many avid home gardeners may decide to complete further research in this area to make sure that they are doing the best thing for their plants.
The program last week teaching students about green energy and hydroponics allowed students to take part in emerging markets like sustainable energy and locally grown produce. Once implemented, these new hydroponic plants will provide McKinley with fresh, naturally grown fruits and vegetables which will be used both in ensuring students have access to fresh and healthy food as well as provisioning the nearby Haley House with fresh vegetables to feed those in need.