At Sweet Water Foundation (SWF), we engage with a host of educational institutions in the development of holistic curriculum. Touching on subjects such as Math, Science, Engineering, Technology, Business, and Art among others, SWF seeks to create interdisciplinary programs that push students to become innovators, with the hope of inspiring them to pursue previously unimagined career paths or projects. Sweet Water Foundation’s programs are not static, but rather change to fit the needs, budgets, and students of the organizations and educational institutions we work with. At their very core; however, SWF’s programs engage students in the construction of miniature aquaponics systems within their classrooms.
Sweet Water Foundation engages students in the construction of miniature aquaponics systems which can fit inside their classroom, or even within a school greenhouse. The beauty of miniature aquaponics systems is that they are completely adaptable and can be made to fit the budget and personality of the individuals creating them. Below are just of few of the miniature systems SWF has guided its partners in creating.
Students engaged in constructing a system are provided basic training in Construction, System Engineering, Plumbing, Electrical etc. but are given the freedom to transform the system via their interests and inspirations. Through such flexibility, Sweet Water Foundation seeks to empower the next generation of innovators and leaders.
Sweet Water Foundation has utilized miniature aquaponics to implement a wide variety of initiatives:
The Seed to Table Initiative:
Funded by the Newman’s Own Foundation, the Seed to table initiative engages students in the production and distribution of food from seed to table. Students are tasked with germinating seeds, constructing an aqauponics system, growing fish and plants, and finally producing a culturally oriented meal with their produce.
Milwaukee Aquaponics Expertise Development Initiative (MAEDI)
Sweet Water Foundation is currently in the planning stages of the Milwaukee Aquaponics Expertise Development Initiative. MAEDI. Sweet Water Foundation in conjunction with the Milwaukee Teacher Education Center received funding from the US Department of Agriculture to conduct a teacher training and educational pilot program to support student’s entry into food science related careers. Through MAEDI we will develop an aquaponics learning framework to increase high school teacher instructional competencies in the STEM disciplines using school based mini aquaponics systems. The framework is being piloted through the training of 6 aquaponics instructional coaches and teachers from a variety of content areas in 5 schools who will design and deliver aquaponics based lessons to high school students in the 2011-12 school year.
Growing Networks- India
Growing Networks, in partnership with Sweet Water Foundation, seeks to democratize Aquaponics and build networks of Aquapons within developing countries. Growing Networks will act as a conduit to the creation of mutually beneficial relationships to spread the wealth of Aquaponics gardening abroad. In that Aquaponics must be developed in a participatory manner in order to be successful– given social, environmental and economic conditions–Growing Networks offers baseline resources and instruction to allow for guided yet flexible and adaptive aquaponics systems to be developed within new localities.
The Growing Networks pilot project “Empowerment through Aquaponics” will progress in the summer of 2012, by utilizing the energy, and wealth of knowledge of 10 UW-Madison students. The students, who will be project management interns, will guide the project to its fruition while conjunctively learning about culture, community, and of course Aquaponics. In a 6-week period, the students will construct an Aquaponics system, network with villagers, educators and businessman, and add art and culture to the Aquaponics movement in India. Through the initial pilot project conducted by these 10 interns, Growing Networks staff will have the research and scalable system necessary to grow the aquaponics movement in India as well as other developing countries in 2012 and beyond.