West Iron County Schools adds 20 hydroponic bays to classroom curriculum
The school received a $10,000 grant to purchase 19 portable hydroponic bays for the elementary school, and one large one for the high school science teachers.
IRON RIVER, Mich. (WLUC) - In Iron County, a parent-organized club is teaching students about gardening. Inside 20 classrooms at West Iron County Schools are hydroponic bays, growing an assortment of plants.
The idea was started by a parent volunteer.
“One of the grants I applied for was through Green Our Planet, which is a hydroponics company in the Southwest. They are the only accredited hydroponics school curriculum. We ended up winning their grant,” said Martha Rypstra, parent volunteer & Garden Club coordinator.
The grant was worth $10,000, which allowed the district to purchase 19 portable hydroponic bays for the elementary school, and one large one for the high school science teachers.
The equipment was installed last week. Rypstra hopes eventually students will be able to grow food for classroom snacks and lunch.
“I want to learn about how things grow, and how I can grow plants in different places,” said Jon Rypstra, Stambaugh Elementary School third grader.
Rypstra and his classmates say they have learned that plants are only growing in water and light. The different color of the light encourages the plant to grow. The classroom hydroponics allows students to monitor the plant’s growth every day.
“I am excited to see how they look when they are all done growing,” said Lauren Fales, Stambaugh Elementary School third grader.
Rypstra also created the “Garden Club” for Stambaugh Elementary students. Twice a week during recess, she will work with any student interested in the hydroponics bay. She said it’s important for parents to be active in their child’s education.
“Each of us as parents have our own specialties. If we each bring those specialties to the school, we can help each other,” Rypstra said.
Rypstra said the school will also add an outdoor greenhouse. The project will cost $57,000. The board of education has already contributed $20,000. The rest will be through grant applications and fundraising efforts.
West Iron County administration said anyone who is looking to get involved with the garden club, or donate to the greenhouse project, is encouraged to contact the district.
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