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Hydroponics with Kids

Updated on September 20, 2008

Kids and plants...what a beautiful mix!

Two years ago the art teacher at the school where I teach, Milton Cooper Elementary School, Houston, TX, approached me with the idea of making an Art Car with a 1973 VW microbus she purchased in an auction...Great idea, but she wanted to do something else inside and we thought of a mobile science lab, since I am the science teacher... Our family was always passionate about hydroponics (my in-laws have a hydroponic lettuce business in Brazil), so we started writing grants and Vincent Van Grow came to life. You can learn more about our project here.

What, No Soil?!

Exploring Classroom Hydroponics (, a teacher's guide

Hydroponics, in its simplest form, is growing plants by supplying all necessary nutrients in the plants' water supply rather than through the soil. The word derives from the Greek root words hydro and ponics, meaning water working. Growing plants hydroponically helps gardeners and farmers grow more food more rapidly in smaller areas (greenhouses, living rooms, classrooms, and rooftops, for instance) and to produce food in parts of the world where space, good soil, and/or water are limited.

When youngsters explore how to grow plants hydroponically (without soil), fruitful questions bloom: How can we provide support for plants without soil? How do plants grown with just water and nutrients compare with plants grown in soil? How can we get the tallest plants using a hydroponics setup? These types of questions can lead to active investigations and problem solving. Record-keeping becomes a natural outgrowth of these endeavors. Concepts related to basic plant parts and needs, nutrition, food production, recycling, agricultural technology and other areas come to life in these soilless growing environments. These studies may even lead to classroom business opportunities or fuel student career interests. Not the least of the benefits is the joy of students harvesting a crop of their own incredible edibles! More

Hydroponics in Video - See how it's made.

Hydroponics and Gardening with Kids on Amazon - A little literature always helps

All-in-one Hydroponic Systems - All you need in one box do need to buy the lighting system for most of them. They do come with everything else: media, nutrients, pumps, tubing, net pots and seed starter cubes. It's a great alternative if you don't want to build your own and it's a good value for your money. I have three different systems in my classroom, growing tomatoes, basil and Chinese 5-color peppers and they all work beautifully!

Lighting Systems

Inddor gardening with hydroponics requires special lighting with the sun's full spectrum: there are 2 basic kinds: fluorescent grow lights and metal-halide lamps. The wattage is hoe "strong" the light is. Most plants do fine with 400 W, unless you are thinking of commercial production...

These are just examples. You can browse and look for lighting systems on the web. Prices vary tremendously; some are available used and new in online auction sites.

Questions? Suggestions? Drop a Line...

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    • profile image

      scottrocha 4 years ago

      The kids are so cool.

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 7 years ago from SE Michigan

      My daughter love to grow in our garden during the summer, but this will be good for us the rest of the year. Thank you.

    • profile image

      lhiller 9 years ago

      Love your lens. Very informative. I'm going to have one of these gardens soon.

      5* and fav. I envy those kids!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      5 Stars and Favored!

      Please consider adding your lens to the plexo at the bottom of Teaching from the Heart.

    • profile image

      happy-jack 9 years ago

      Just keep Vincent going,

      great lens glad I stopped

      in, thank you very much

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 9 years ago from Minnesota

      I love the idea of "Vincent Van Grow"! Your lens is so good - actually useful for anyone, not just kids.