Aquaponics Takes Center Stage at Children’s Workshop

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Checking it out: Workshop participants looking at the aquaponics system made by the Children’s Discovery Workshop team and participants.

What do plastic bottles, goldfish, glass marbles and filtered water have in common? They are all parts of a basic aquaponics system – so simple, a child can do it and they did at The University of the West Indies (The UWI) After-School Care Centre’s (ASCC) Children’s Discovery Workshop as part of the project Science Education as a Climate Change Resilience Strategy (SECCRS). The workshop featured an aquaponics-themed presentation and graduation ceremony for 67 participants ages 3 to 13.

 

Aquaponics – the symbiotic system combining aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) wherein, the fish waste produced provides an organic food source for the growing plants, and the plants, in turn, provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in – was just one of the topics covered during the two-week workshop. The children also learned about climate change and green technologies through outdoor activities, games, arts and crafts, and a visit to the NIHERST National Science Center.

 

The workshop was a result of The UWI St Augustine’s Department of Chemistry’s ongoing SECCRS initiative, an 18-month project funded by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP). The project’s overall goal is to empower communities to apply practical knowledge of green technologies to best meet the need of local circumstances. Members of the Heights of Guanapo community were trained to use aquaponics to avoid soil and water contamination from the landfill. Nine of these adults were then mentored to work directly with the children of the ASCC and Guanapo to pass on what they had learned. The UWI Department of Chemistry and Department of Clinical Veterinary Sciences Aquatic Health Unit, the Guanapo Community Environmental Development Organisation (GCEDO) and the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST) have a unique partnership with the ASCC to accomplish the project goals.

 

According to the workshop facilitator and the SECCRS project team leader Dr Leonette Cox of The UWI’s Department of Chemistry, “The big picture is knowledge sharing and building confidence and capacity in community.” And confidence was in full display as the combined teams of children led by the Guanapo facilitators performed poems, skits and dance numbers dedicated to aquaponics to a crowd of parents, UWI staff members and others. The day ended with gift presentations and certificates for the young participants.

The project’s next phase involves project leadership and proposal writing training.

For more information about the SECCRS project contact Dr Leonette Cox, Research Outreach Consulting and Analytical Services, Department of Chemistry at leonette.cox@sta.uwi.edu or 662-2002 ext. 84334.

This article was re-posted from: www.trinidadexpress.com

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