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Lesson: Micro Hydroponics Systems

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello Building Micro Hydroponics Seedling Trays

This lesson: Micro hydroponics systems students will create rainwater hydroponics systems from to go containers and 3D printed bases. The hydroponic systems will be seeded by Eden’s Ghost, rabbit droppings, and ammonia.

Hydroponics is just a Greek word meaning water work. In hydroponics systems farmers let the water do the work of growing and sustaining the plants. Humans just provide nutrients in specific amounts to create a balanced ecology.

Materials

  • Take out container with a lid
  • A source of fresh water
  • A series of peat sponge plugs like this
  • A drill
  • A 1/2″ drill bit
  • A sharpie marker
  • A carpet cutting knife
  • A source of seeds
  • A source of fertilizer (see lesson: making the perfect fertilizer)
  • A tray or a set of trays to control water spillage

Instructions

  1. Give each student or team of students a take out container
  2. The size or shape of the take out container is not important as long as it is take out size and not too deep
  3. Have students draw “X” marks where they want to place the plugs
  4. Allow students to examine the plugs so they understand their scale, density and requirements
    • Each plug must have at least 4 cm of space around it
    • Ask the students to arrange their “X” to accommodate this
  5. Once their lids are marked, Drill their holes for them
    • This is best accomplished on a table, with a block of wood beneath it
    • Heating the tip of the drill bit works wonders on clean holes
  6. Allow the students to fill their container bottom with water
  7. Add the fertilizer in a 1:10 ratio
    • Cover ratios with your students if you must
  8. Replace the lid over the container
  9. Give students the seeds
    • The best seeds for this are kale, lettuce, turnips, and spinach
  10. Ask the kids to observe the plugs
  11. When the plug appears sufficiently damp, insert the seed into the hole in the top of the plug
  12. Ask students to carefully monitor the seeds over the first few days
  13. When germination begins, have students add just a 1/2 tsp of fertilizer a week

Teacher note:
It is wise to have a mockup ready and seeded so the students can see the sprouting of the plants. I will provide a few photos in this lesson plan just in case. These systems are almost endlessly re-useable, so keep them or give them to the students. the roots in the plug will become fertilizer. or the kids can clean the sponge with bleach and water. Users choice.

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