Mobile Aquaponics Laboratory

Grantee: Community Christian Alternative (CCA) Academy – Chicago, IL / 2014
Project Title: Mobile Aquaponics Laboratory (MALP)

Description: The Mobile Aquaponics Laboratory Project (MALP) is a moveable aquaponic system capable of monitoring water chemistry through the use of open-source water testing software. This enables science students to track and monitor water chemistry, fish and plant growth, and daily operations. Students compared data with their observations taken from live feed cameras and time-lapse photography. This live feed allowed for remote learning. MALP allowed students the opportunity to build a physical aquaponic system, learn to use cloud-based monitoring software, and conduct controlled experiments on water chemistry, fish growth, plant nutrition, and bacterial growth. The student observations, experiments, and analytical data are shared with other CCA students to use in math, art, and environmental science classes. Students also participate in college-based internships in agriculture and aquatic technology

The student-led program components include 1,500 gallons of water with 800 tilapia in an aquaponics (a method of growing fish and crops together in a re-circulating system) systems for year round growing of produce. Other components include transforming 12 vacant lots into urban gardens, composting, vermiculture (a method of using worms to produce nutrient-rich, organic soil), and water conservation.

They were able to work directly with the developer of the remote sensor system as the school paid for Eric Maundu to fly from California to conduct a 3-day workshop with the students. Eric Maundu donated his time for this workshop and it allowed the students to build the system with his expert guidance.

Continuous impact / Community engagement:  Since its development, the mobile unit has been on display at Northeastern Illinois University, the Museum of Science and Industry and at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries.

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