One of the founding principals of our company was to spread information and awareness about sustainable design and aquaponics. Through the EcoQube and the EcoQube C, we were able to use these ideas to create beautiful and unique pieces of living decor. While we love letting people bring a little bit of nature into their home or office, we here at ADI think that it’s equally important that we bring nature into the classroom as well.
More than just a fish tank or a planter, the EcoQube C has great potential as a learning tool. For this reason, we recently set up Notre Dame Academy of San Diego with 18 EcoQube C’s for use in their classrooms. Ecosystems, the nitrogen cycle, ecology, and sustainability are all part of a standard curriculum, so why not provide the students with a living, breathing example of all these processes in action? Learning from lectures and books is useful, it’s how most of us learned about nature in school, but to have a physical, tactile example to play, experiment and learn from hands-on is invaluable.
From the EcoQube C’s, the K-8 students at Notre Dame Academy will learn how to grow a plant and how to take care of a fish. They’ll have fun feeding their pet fish and watch as the basil plant grows, seeing the roots spread out and absorb the nutrients of the tank. They’ll learn how an ecosystem works and how plants, animals and even microscopic bacteria all work together and thrive as a whole. What’s more, these kids will be exposed to aquaponics and soilless agriculture at a far younger age than any of us ever were. Techniques like hydroponics and vertical farming are imminent technologies, so giving these future scientists, engineers and designers a head start on it makes me feel much more optimistic about the future.
Of course, we didn’t invent the concept of introducing gardening to the classroom. Infact, we were inspired by the organization Kitchen Community, founded by Hugo Matheson and Kimbal Musk, and their Learning Gardens. The Kitchen Community is a non-profit the enriches school education by installing Learning Gardens, a place where student can plant, tend to, and even harvest their own crops. And while it seems simple, studies have proven “overwhelmingly that garden-based learning had a positive impact on students’ grades, knowledge, attitudes, and behavior” (Dixon, Sage Journals.)
We know that the EcoQube C is quite small in comparison to Kimbal Musk’s Learning Gardens, but we think the impact it could have can be just as great. Hopefully, the little aquaponic aquariums will inspire the students to try to understand how it works, and the bigger concepts it runs on. And if nothing else, we hope that they enjoy the little bit of nature we can provide to their classroom.