Christine Pendleton and Nancy Zook
Pendleton and Zook’s winning program idea, “Solar Aquaponics”, involves having their students create and build a solar-powered turbine to eventually power an aquaponics system. Students in the college preparatory courses that have a thematic emphasis on urban agriculture and ecology will build solar panels using aluminum cans. Student-led agricultural components include creating an aquaponics system involving 1,500 gallons of water with 800 tilapia for year-round production. It also includes transforming 12 vacant lots into urban gardens, composting, vermiculture (using worms to produce nutrient-rich, organic soil), and water conservation. Through this program, students will learn how to convert solar energy into electrical energy as well as the mechanics of an aquaponics system. They also will get to measure the reduction of the school’s carbon footprint and create a plan to use renewable energy for the entire school. Ultimately, Pendleton and Zook hope their students will connect theory to real life and increase student achievement and engagement.