H-ton STEM Fourth Graders Study Hydroponics

STEM fourth graders and teacher Janet Blitz with the fruits of the hydroponics unit.

December 22, 2017

Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School fourth grade teacher Janet Blitz is teaching students all about hydroponics.

“My class has been working hard on an inquiry based hydroponics unit for the past several weeks,” Mrs. Blitz said. “As part of our TCI science curriculum, the children have been learning about plant structures and became interested in the ability to grow plants without soil.” (TCI is a K-12 publishing company that creates science and social studies curriculum.) 

The lessons have intrigued the fourth graders. “In an effort to continue planting throughout the cold winter months, we challenged ourselves to learn about hydroponics and utilize the hydroponics system that was purchased through grant funding,” Mrs. Blitz said.

The unit is an example of the unique experiences Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School students are offered within the friendly confines of the building.

“The word ‘hydroponic’ comes from Latin and means ‘working water,’” according to the Simply Hydroponics website. “Simply put, it is the art of growing plants without soil. When most people think of hydroponics, they think of plants grown with their roots suspended directly into water with no growing medium. This is just one type of hydroponic gardening known as nutrient film technique. There are several variations of it used around the world and it is a very popular method of growing hydroponically. What most people don’t realize is that there are countless methods and variations of hydroponic gardening.”

Mrs. Blitz has been a full-time member of the district’s faculty since September. She earned a BA degree in elementary education and psychology at Hofstra University in 1995 and a Master of Arts in STEM education at Hofstra in 1997. Prior to coming to Huntington, she worked at PS 279 in the New York City school system.

The Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School fourth graders are enjoying the specialized studies they have undertaken. “The children have really taken ownership of the entire unit by researching hydroponics and deciding which seeds work will grow best, the nutrients needed, how to adjust the pH balance and how the system works in general,” Mrs. Blitz said. “They are really running the whole operation by themselves and it is very exciting to see their enthusiasm for the entire unit.”

As students prep for their weeklong vacation, the fourth graders decided to harvest their crops. “Our lettuce is ready for picking and we have decided to create a classroom ‘salad bar’ so we can taste test it,” Mrs. Blitz said.

Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School fourth graders are learning about hydroponics.
Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School fourth graders are learning about hydroponics.
Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School fourth graders are learning about hydroponics.
Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School fourth graders are learning about hydroponics.
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