The Aquasol (water & renewable energy) program is the utilization of an RRPI designed Simulated Eco System (SES) laboratory for educational purposes. The program’s core is designed to educate in subjects ranging from the sciences – ecological-biology, water-chemistry, geography and geology concepts, physics of fluids etc., to elective subjects studies like design and technology utilizing renewable energy, air and water pumps, fans etc.
In addition to an enhanced technological experience for day school, the AquaSol program is especially suited for credit recovery within an after school learning environment as:
1. It allows subject differentiation although within an integrated experience enabling verification against (meet) state educational standards (requirements)
2. It is an innovative approach to experiential, beyond classroom learning which concurrently retains academic integrity
3. Much like robotics, AquaSol engineering simulates nature. It is also imbued with the added advantage of lessons in environmental stewardship as well as relative learning ease neither accessible to a wide range of youth unable to perform in robotics education
4. The experience is introduced to youth early as an early childhood development activity (the pre kindergarten ages) through the Teen Age TAPPP program
5. The experience harnesses youth involvement to provide a seamless transition from classroom to beyond classroom learning incorporating day school, after school and community education
6. Its core is designed as an education in the subject of conservation of water and energy in agriculture. A pressing and current social issue with national and international implications. The program thereby represents a fitting experiential tool for introduction of social stewardship on a current basis
7. For educational utility, it appends relationships with city, state and private conservation groups and initiatives such as rain water conservation support from the Minnesota Watershed Management Organization (MWMO), Renewable energy support from the university of Minnesota – Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams (MN-CERTS), agriculture and educational support from the MN Horticultural Society, U of MN Ag extension the State of MN (LCCMR funding) Hennepin County’s Environmental Services Division
8. It ties into community relations by preparing for and ensuring participation in summer partnerships that simultaneously engage children of various ages and schools, staff and parents and other leaders within the community. Specifically, North High Schools 21st century learning partnership with other 21st Century Community Learning Programs
9. Youth research and hands on design activities are the basis of the program’s design. Youth participants build a simulation of nature that can be easily be perpetually maintained.
10. It utilizes a systems education platform to teach conservation; a methodology that identifies the needs for social (human engineered) systems to harmoniously exist in nature. These are exact state and national environmental education guidelines. *Environmental Literacy Scope & Sequence Handbook (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency-MPCA & American Association for the Advancement of Science-AAAS)
11. The Aquasol program specifically imparts the experience of social systems introduction into nature. The innovative aspect of eco simulation lies in the required natural harmony for sustenance which forces the exact paradigm (environmental harmony) sought when environmental education is imparted
12. It is conveyed on and furthermore lubricates a third year successful, MPS community education urban horticulture and youth employment model. This aspect of design provides the footprint that enhances expandability to similar 21st century learning after school program locations as well as the various ALC centers to drive those programs success’
13. Student personal outcomes are both tangible (they utilize material from their environment in tandem with manufactured materials to design a self perpetuating system that reflects their natural environment, teaches elements of proper (healthy) nutrition, will provide credit recovery in a stimulating non classroom like environment) as well as related intangibles such as the nurture and care for living communities (other than homo sapiens).
14. Gardens and fishponds /aquariums have separately been implicated as good mental and physical health triggers. These seemingly separate therapies are naturally, intricately paired in the Aquasol enterprise. This speaks to (the great unspoken elephant – untreated and mostly ignored PTSD from inhabiting high duress communities with historically underserved populations) healing for the NHS children where this affliction (PTSD) is coupled with high incidences of violence and a tornado event). This program’s intentional design is to intrinsically ameliorate this condition that represents a significant success barrier to the many other learning models that presently exist and thus the northside population
15. The products of the laboratory are directed towards school yard beautification. The learning naturally leads to soil ecosystem topics and comparisons systematic between water and soil support systems for plants and the importance of soils. It also presents the geological limitations and constraints that social activities present to soil agricultural systems
16. The products of the laboratory are also directed towards school store products, community gardens and youth related healthy food engagements for social and spiritual uplift
With proper integration through qualified teachers in the respective subjects, the Aquasol program and its corresponding SES lab is a well rounded and comprehensive educational tool. The laboratory can provide an aspect of all – every one – of a child’s K-12 (least) coursework requirements to complete, federal and thus implementable towards states, educational standards. For example, the Minnesota Department of Education standards as described for environmental education inculcating English, mathematics, sciences – including biology (see “Closed System Nutrient Cycling” example below), chemistry and physics, social studies inclusive of U.S. and world history, art as well as opportunities for recovery in other elective credits.
AquaSol™ infrastructure and process are divided into two distinct activity patterns:
• Equipment and materials that comprise modular units for youth design (small transportable systems) by single or small group of students. Most aspects and characteristics of these smaller systems are youth oriented and the units are easily assembled
• A main frame aquaponics system that meets a higher yield and provides an education standard point, quarantine capabilities, downtime and break time buffering for plants etc. The substantial amount of energy use from the mainframe will enable energy technology study due to renewable energy coupling of the system
“A garden can be a food source, an outdoor
classroom, a place of rest, a habitat for endemic
flora, or all of the above. Whether you grow
flowers, herbs, vegetables, or a little bit of
everything, gardens are a place for
learning. They are perfect for getting your
hands dirty and your mind engaged in
exploring the world that surrounds you.
Learning by doing often allows students to
succeed academically, because they can touch
and see the concepts they are being taught.
Hands-on activities are engaging and fun for
everyone. It is exciting when students who are
normally quiet or have difficulty learning in a
formal setting take an active role and show
leadership qualities. With a school garden,
students learn to nurture, wait patiently,
become responsible for part of a project,
and claim ownership for their success. Being
involved in these activities helps create self esteem
and pride for both individual and team
A school garden is an outdoor classroom.
Basic science and mathematical concepts are
automatically associated with gardens, but other
concepts are explored as well, such as nutrition
and agriculture. Nutrition education plays a large
part in garden learning and, ultimately, in the
health of the students. Some of the most finicky
eaters, students who were once completely
opposed to eating certain fruits or vegetables,
discover that their garden harvest is quite tasty!
For some students, a school garden provides
the opportunity to eat fruits and vegetables they
have never tried before. A school garden, on a
small scale, demonstrates how the agricultural
sector of California, and the world, ties into our
daily lives. Students can discover with their own
eyes and hands what makes a seed grow, what
is needed to prepare soil, how to maintain a
healthy crop, how to harvest crops, and what it
takes to get food from a farm to our tables”.
…Text adapted from “Do the Rot Thing: A Teacher’s Guide to
Compost Activities,” Alameda County Waste Management
Authority and Alameda County Source Reduction and
Recycling Board, San Leandro
‘, CA, 1997