Planting the Pond

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2019: $4,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2021
Grant Recipient: Western Dakota Tech
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Manager:
Dr. Kelsey Murray
Western Dakota Tech
Project Co-Managers:
Bryan Mitchell
Western Dakota Tech

Information Products


  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), greens (lettuces)
  • Animals: fish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture
  • Crop Production: nutrient cycling
  • Education and Training: demonstration, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution
  • Production Systems: aquaponics
  • Sustainable Communities: community services, local and regional food systems, partnerships, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Western Dakota Tech (WDT) took first place in the National Science Foundation’s 2018 Community College Innovation Challenge for our innovative aquaponics project.  As a continuation of this success, we propose to implement aquaponics in a middle school classroom as a STEM education tool.  Not only would this project effectively engage students, help students learn and retain scientific principles, and understand systems-level processes, but it would provide a pathway into already established STEM tracks in high school and subsequently WDT.  This project could serve as a model for other K-12 schools to integrate similar technology into their own curriculum. 

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Planting the Pond will have four main objectives: 1.) to design, construct, and implement a medium-sized aquaponics system in a middle school STEM classroom that has already integrated concepts in sustainable agriculture into their curriculum, 2.) to supplement current curriculum with our aquaponics expertise through demonstrations and interactive lectures, 3.) to organize a culinary event featuring the produce grown with the classroom system, and 4.) to provide a pathway into already-established secondary and post-secondary STEM education tracks.    

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.