We found the available resources
provided in our links, lacking in diversity.
While they teach the basic principles of hydroponics they fail to
explore how and why these methods might be superior. Neither do they examine the many possible
experiments that explore the countless factors effecting plant growth and
yield. Not to worry. We’ve been helping kids of all ages put
projects together since we opened our doors and below you will find just some
of the many variations that can be done with the basic templates in the links. Almost all of them can be adapted to any
grade level according to the complexity of the system and curriculum. The first and most fundamental, Hydro vs Dirt, is an excellent example
of how this can work.
Hydro vs. Dirt-Take groups of seedlings, as
identical as possible (cuttings from the same plant are recommended for grades 6-12
as this eliminates the genetic variable http://simplyhydro.com/cuttings.htm). Plant half in soil and half in any style of
hydroponic system. Make sure all other
factors; lighting, temperature, etc. are identical and have students log the
differences throughout the process. Look
at circumference of stalk and branches, density and color of foliage, fruit and
flower yield, including differences in taste and aroma if applicable. Also examine the differences in the root
systems. This concept can be simplified
down to pre-K by helping students make a simple raft system for the hydro and using
peat pots or plastic cups for the soil. Use lettuce (FAST & EASY) for your
crop. For MG-12, have the class work
together to design and build a more complex hydroponic system, http://simplyhydro.com/freesys.htm
and chose a fruit or flower producing crop such as tomatoes, cucumbers or
pH Levels-Have students examine the effects of
pH levels on plant health by running three smaller systems side by side,
keeping one alkaline, one acidic and one neutral. http://simplyhydro.com/ph.htm
Nutrient Strengths-How much food do plants need? Is more better? Again, running several smaller systems side
by side, do several variations and see how plants respond to everything from
straight water to double nutrient mixing ratios.
H2O Quality-Run several systems side by side
using the same nutrient but varied qualities of water; spring, tap, RO,
Hours of Light-
Intensity of Light-
Foliar Feeding-Test the benefits of foliar feeding
using three identical hydroponics systems (the simple Floating Raft System http://simplyhydro.com/free2.htm
will work fine for this) do one with nutrients in the tank only, one foliar
feeding only and one combination.
Document all observations.
Wind Stress-Using different hydroponic systems or
dividing the area on a larger system, test the effects of wind stress on plants
by placing fans on some plants and not others.
Note all differences, looking at girth and strength of stalks and stems,
Water Temperature-Another easy peasy one that can be
done with the Floating Raft System or the simple and inexpensive Bubbler Bucket
System http://simplyhydro.com/free7.htm. Run one or more systems at optimal water
temps and a comparative number at lower and higher temps. Observe the effects on the nutrient solution
as well as the effects on the plant.
Oxygenation of Water-Same set up as Water Temperature experiment except this time, temps are
identical and students will be testing the effects of oxygen levels on plants
and nutrient solution using varied numbers of air stones in the reservoirs.