Sedalia Middle School

Sedalia Middle School science teacher Tera Thomas used her 2014 Microgrant to install an aquaponics system in her classroom.

Aquaponics ClassroomTera Thomas, science teacher at Sedalia Middle School, had a great idea for an environmental project, but she needed some funding to pull it off. So when the school’s principal, Mrs. Sara Pannier, emailed her about the KCP&L Microgrant program, she applied for one to help make it happen.

Thomas wanted to install an aquaponics system in her Sedalia classroom to teach her students first-hand about sustainable farming. And in the year that followed, her class learned a lot.

What is aquaponics?

If you don’t know what an aquaponics system is, you’re not alone.

“I didn’t know much about it until my daughter explained it to me at their open house,” said parent Ann Cave. “She was very excited about the project. Mrs. Thomas has done a great job with it. The kids learned so much about how to grow nutritious food and make better food choices.”

“Aquaponics is an ecosystem that teaches the Common Core scientific method of learning,” explained Thomas. “It’s a circular system that includes a fish tank, which in this case held growing tilapia. The water in the tank is pumped into trays that hold the growing plants and then filtered and pumped back into the fish tank. The result is edible food, including the fish, if you don’t get too attached to them.”

Of course they all did. “We named them Millie, Pilly, Lily, Nellie, Spinkle and Sparkle,” said Kirin Lewellyn. So the fish will still be in the classroom when the fall term begins. “I’ll be back here every couple of days over the summer to feed them,” smiled Mrs. Thomas. 

Apply for a Microgrant to fund your project

If you have an idea for an environmental project you’d like to lead in your community, apply for a KCP&L Microgrant to help fund it. Check back for timing and availability.

“Mine made it possible to bring active learning to my classroom,” said Thomas. The kids gained an impressive understanding of how aquaponics works and its future agricultural value.

“My favorite part was feeding the fish,” said Alisa. “And we loved watching the plants grow,” added Keaton.

Watch this video to learn more.