Snack time and science class have become one and the same for third grade classes at Pearl S. Buck Elementary School in Levittown. Last year, each classroom obtained an AeroGarden Farm — a coffee-table sized unit that allows the user to grow vegetables and plants indoors without soil. This year, students in each of the five classes raised a variety of plants from seedings, including lettuce and tomatoes, basil and dill. The students used a special tool to pollinate the flowers of the plants, then fed their produce with special nutrients as the plants grew under timed artificial lights mounted inside the AeroGarden.
The result of this project-based learning experience has been several harvests of salad greens and tomatoes so far this year. They have experimented with changing the growing conditions by varying artificial vs. natural light or the amount of nutrient provided. Like all scientists, they have been documenting their studies by measuring and recording the size of the plants at various stages and taking photos. When they have enough produce to harvest, each class holds a “salad party” during snack time. The students are allowed to garnish their salads with their favorite condiments brought from home.
Some of the students are now branching out and have constructed home-made hydroponic gardens from 5‑gallon buckets. Nutrients are provided courtesy of beta fish swimming in the water underneath their growing plants, and the students are proudly finding unique ways to use recycled products to build their gardens. They are planning to grow flowers in their hydroponic systems.
In early March, the classes visited the hydroponic farm at Delaware Valley University to learn more about this futuristic farming method.
At the March 12 School Board Public Work Session, several of the students spoke about their project and shared their class-grown salad with Board members.