Hydroponics with Hannah Harris


Skylar Fincher-Butler, Reporter

Agriculture teacher Hannah Harris’ classes are working to create and maintain hydroponic systems.


A hydroponic system is a way to grow plants without the use of soil.


Harris’ three plant and soil classes as well as her Future Farmers of America (FFA) members are building and maintaining these systems. 


This assignment was new for this year after Harris saw it at a teacher training program which was the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) and decided to test it out with her students.


The project required the students to build the systems entirely out of recycled materials brought in by teachers and staff. The exceptions are the use of water pumps and hot glue. 


Students chose from a list of five different systems that they learned about in class through notes and lectures. 


The most popular design was a passive system in which the plant sits root deep in water and remains untouched throughout the day. This does not require a water pump.


Other students attempted more elaborate kinds such as the nutrient film technique. This system has a continuous flow of water, propelled by a water pump, which circulates the water back and forth from the plant to the pump. 


The most successful of the two was the passive system because of its simplicity. 


All classes are growing kale in their hydroponic systems. Harris purchased the seeds from Rowers at a farm show as a way to support a local business in the area. Harris said she chose kale because it grows very quickly. 


If the kale is successfully grown, then students are going to be able to make salads and possibly kale chips. 


This project has the capacity to teach students real-world applications, show them the use of recyclable material, and allow for creativity and growth both mentally and academically.


“We do this project to teach students about growing their own food and they don’t need a big fancy system to make that happen. You can use recycled material and some creativity to make your own food at home!” said Harris


Some students highly enjoyed this project because it allowed them to think freely, allowing them to explore areas they were interested in or wanted to learn about. 


Others did not enjoy it because they found that it was very challenging and were unable to build and operate a system successfully. 


However, both those who enjoyed and disliked the project agreed that they were able to learn new things in the area of hydroponics. Senior Haleyanne Walter said, “I learned a lot and had fun doing it even though it was unsuccessful.”