Aquaponics garden creates learning opportunity for Goliad students

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Aug. 19, 2017 at 3:57 p.m.
Updated Aug. 20, 2017 at 6 a.m.

Carl Clapsaddle hands out koi fish for kids to put in the aquaponics system.

Carl Clapsaddle hands out koi fish for kids to put in the aquaponics system.   Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate

Third-grader Elizabeth Clapsaddle cupped her hands around "Toad" the dark-green, spotted frog, so she could introduce it to Goliad Elementary School's new aquaponics system.

"They felt slimy," Elizabeth, 8, said, describing the 99 koi fish that were added to the system before she met her new frog friend.

Goliad school district students spent the summer building an aquaponics system, a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, the soil-less growing of plants.

Fish and plants will be grown together in one integrated system by the students.

The final step in the project was completed Aug. 9 when students stocked the system with fish.

Each of the 264 cement blocks were moved, leveled and stacked by the student volunteers.

Shane Henson, sophomore, assisted the younger students in transporting the cart full of the building materials for three days.

"It was a pain keeping the tarp flat," Shane, 15, said.

He chose to participate in the project for community service hours, he said.

Learning about the system and helping the students were the benefits from participation, Shane said.

The summer heat did not stop the work from being finished, said fifth-grader Kathrynn Sawyer.

After the structure was complete, water was added to the system.

"I learned teamwork," Kathrynn, 10, said.

The left side of the system includes mint, ground covers and two fig trees and the right includes koi fish that will be sold to help maintain the production and expansion of other projects, said Shannon Sawyer, teacher at Goliad Elementary School.

Other varieties of vegetables will be added to the system in the future, she said.

"We look forward to seeing every grade level benefit from this project," Sawyer said.

Fifth-grader Shanley Colman gained a better understanding of the relationships between plants and animals.

"I learned plants and animals can help each other," Shanley, 10, said. "This is better than being inside on the computer."


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