DISTRICT ALERT Posted Feb 21, 2018, 5:16:43 AM: Closed, all evening activities cancelled

Horticulture students at Woodland Middle School learn how to grow plants without soil

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Woodland Middle School seventh and eighth graders in Horticulture class learn to grow herbs, vegetables, and other plants hydroponically, without the use of soil, in order to throw an end-of-semester organic salad banquet.

Middle school students in Joe Bosch's Horticulture class learn to grow herbs and vegetables hydroponically, without the use of soil.
Middle school students in Joe Bosch's Horticulture class learn to grow herbs and vegetables hydroponically, without the use of soil. 

Joseph Bosch, a science and math teacher at Woodland Middle School, has a green thumb and enjoys inspiring students to discover the love of gardening during his Horticulture class elective. This year, Bosch introduced a new project to his class using hydroponics, the science of growing plants without the use of soil. "This is the first time I've used a hydroponics project in class," explained Bosch. "The idea came from my son who suggested that we take a look at growing vegetables hydroponically so we can grow vegetables during the winter, and I realized this would make an excellent project for my class, too."

Joe Bosch shows the class a seed beginning to sprout. Bosch enjoys gardening and likes developing innovative projects for his science elective classes.
Joe Bosch shows the class a seed beginning to sprout. Bosch enjoys gardening and likes developing innovative projects for his science elective classes. 

The hydroponic technique the class will use involves growing plants in specially-made buckets called Dutch Buckets, and then running water filled with nutrients through the plant's root systems daily. "The watering system will be big the biggest challenge as it's a bit out of my scope, but that's part of teaching kids," said Bosch. "Watching scientists and teachers go through trial-and-error to come up with solutions is a powerful teaching experience for kids."

During the project, students create their own Dutch Buckets, a bucket with a specially-designed drain hole in the bottom so plants receive nutrient-filled water without receiving too much and drowning. The water drains out of the bottom of each Dutch Bucket into drain pans where the water is recycled and used to feed the plants again and again.

Olivia Hart (left) and Hope Davis (right), both eighth graders, work on creating their Dutch Buckets, a bucket with a special drain-hole on the bottom.
Olivia Hart (left) and Hope Davis (right), both eighth graders, work on creating their Dutch Buckets, a bucket with a special drain-hole on the bottom. 

Students choose what plants they would like to grow including a variety of vegetables such as spinach, strawberries, cabbage, jalapeno peppers, black beans, kale and cucumbers as well as a selection of herbs including thyme, basil, parsley and oregano. "I've gardened before, but just using traditional-style gardening techniques, not hydroponics," said Hope Davis, an eighth grader. "I really enjoy the hands-on experiments in science class because they’re more fun than reading and doing a worksheet, plus, when I do hands-on work, I remember the lesson more."

Bosch finds that students enter his science classes prepared to experiment. "Students tend to walk into science classes with a more adventurous feeling," said Bosch. "We can also be a little crazy as a class by taking experiments in different directions since there's no definitive end telling us when we're done."

Judeah Sanders, eighth grader, enjoys hands-on experiments and discovering new things in science classes along with his classmates.
Judeah Sanders, eighth grader, enjoys hands-on experiments and discovering new things in science classes along with his classmates. 

Students spoke of how much they enjoy taking science classes. "I like all of my science classes because of the experiments," said Olivia Hart, an eighth grader. "Last year, I found out that I'm a kinesthetic learner which means I learn better when I can perform hands-on projects like what we do in science." Judeah Sanders, one of Hart's eighth grade classmates, agrees with her. "Science is one of my favorite subjects because I enjoy discovering new things I haven't done before," explained Sanders. "I've grown corn, potatoes, tomatoes and snap peas at home and really enjoy gardening, so this project is a lot of fun."

Students greatly appreciate Bosch's teaching style, a combination of high expectations with a healthy peppering of good humor. "He always keeps classes exciting and there's never a boring moment," said Chris Duvall, a seventh grader. "There isn't a single day where we don't do something fun and learn something new." Davis agrees with her classmate, "Mr. Bosch tends to make terrible puns but he's an incredibly fun teacher!"

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