Hydroponics Learning Model (HLM) is an intensive, experiential (hands-on) curriculum that uses hydroponics technology (growing plants in a nutrient solution) to increase understanding of scientific and environmental concepts as well as to increase youth?s skills related to critical thinking, team building, communication, and scientific inquiry.
Many of the black and Hispanic students in New York attend urban schools that do not have the infrastructure and resources to provide an adequate inquiry-based applied science education and yet the expectations for graduating from high school continue to become more rigorous. Moreover, this educational challenge exists at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
The National Center for Education statistics also reported that between 1996-2000, in science literacy, male students outperform females and whites outperform blacks and Hispanics.
The limited spending on educational resources in large urban centers such as New York City also results in school laboratories that are ill-equipped and lacking basic supplies to conduct research-based projects by students. Creative approaches are needed to address the challenge of graduating scientifically literate youth into college or into the world of work while addressing the gap in learning between different gender groups and races.
The Hydroponics Learning Model (HLM) project was developed as a vehicle to introduce students to high-tech agriculture and related disciplines via a hands-on applied science-learning environment. Working with middle and high school teachers and administrators, a year-long learning process involving students in developing, constructing, and monitoring hydroponics units in a classroom environment using easily available and low-cost supplies. Students also delve into interdisciplinary subject areas such as marketing, economics, and social implications of science and technology. The project also involves site visits to large-scale food production facilities such as farms and greenhouses.
The HLM curriculum consists of over 30 lessons that help teachers facilitate sessions that enable the students in growing edible crops such as basil, bok choi, and lettuce, while exploring fundamental concepts in applied science, technology, and environmental studies.
Finally, the students present their research data in a public forum to their peers, invited guests and other educators.
The HLM curriculum is designed to address many standards in science education recommended by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Research Council (NRC), and the New York State Department of Education.
Over 220 students were involved in science experiments using hydroponics in 2004. A majority of these students received science credits and gained experience in primary scientific research. At one school, student attendance increased to more than 90 percent while they were involved in the HLM Project. In addition, students showed more interest in science and technology in general.
The nine teachers representing five schools involved in piloting HLM in 2004 indicated that as a result of the training received they were better prepared to implement this inquiry-based curriculum. Teachers also observed that there were fewer discipline issues in classes that were involved in the HLM project partly because students were working on scientific "hands-on" activities, frequently in teams that were formed to encourage collaborative learning.
Students also indicated that they better appreciated the sciences since they were not subjected to "chalk and talk" but were conducting experiments and measuring different parameters and variables. They also appreciated the problem-solving aspect of the project. In addition, students? attitudes and awareness of science and technology-related careers were enhanced.
- Federal Formula Funds - Extension (e.g., Smith Lever, RREA)
- CALS Department of Education
- NYC Board of Education
- City As School Alternative High School
- New School for the Arts and Sciences
- Canarsie High School
- The Guild -- Adlai Stevenson High School
- Ariff Hajee--Project Lead, CCE-NYC
- Philson Warner--Technical Lead, CCE-NYC
- N?Jeri Mitchell--Evaluation and Fund Development, CCE-NYC
- Jackie Davis-Manigaulte--Evaluation and Fund Development, CCE-NYC
- Janet Hawkes--CALS Department of Education, Cornell University
- Benjamin Wood--CALS Department of EducationDonald Amaker, Principal, New School for Arts and Sciences, Bronx, NY