Children are fascinated with gardening, and this fascination lends itself nicely to a teaching subject during the Prep year at school. You want to show the kids in your class how to grow strawberries using hydroponics (who doesn't love a ripe, juicy berry?), but you don't have a lot of money in the budget to achieve this. What is the easiest way to perform this project without spending too much cash? A bucket and a few other items are all you need to have a fascinating teaching project for the kids.
A classroom hydroponic project does not need to start off being big and fancy. Ask the student's parents for donations of these materials:
- 22-litre bucket with fitted lid
- net cup (a small plastic cup which looks like a laundry basket and is available at a hydroponic shop)
- small air pump, hose and air stone (can be taken from an unused aquarium)
- strawberry seedlings
The beauty of this setup is it won't take up a lot of room in your classroom. Place the bucket on a table next to a power point. Next, use a pair of scissors to cut a hole in the bucket lid. The hole needs to be big enough for the net cup to fit through. The wide lip at the top of the net cup stops it from falling through the hole into the water.
On one edge of the bucket lid, cut a hole big enough for the air tube to pass through. Place the air stone at the bottom of the bucket. Attach the air tube and run it up the inside of the bucket and then out through the hole in the lid. The other end of the air tube plugs into the small air pump. Finally, fill up the bucket with water to a level which is just above the base of the net cup. Add a nutrient solution to the water to encourage strawberry growth. The nutrient solution is available at your local hydroponic shop.
Once the bucket is ready and filled with water, remove strawberry seedlings from their soil containers and wash the dirt gently from their roots. Place the plants into the net cup, and then you and your class can watch them grow and produce fruit.
If you have any difficulties with the bucket setup, or you need additional supplies, talk to a hydroponic expert to pick their brains. You could also ask them to come to the classroom and give a small presentation on this fascinating growing process to your class.