STEELTON-HIGHSPIRE SCHOOL DISTRICT AQUAPONIC LEARNING CENTER

Objective:
To provide quality STEM education opportunities in the Steelton-Highspire School District, help facilitate the production of healthy, nutritious food in a food desert, and assist the school district in exploring new revenue streams.

Outcome:
INTAG’s systems, expertise, and consulting built the foundation for a thriving 2,700 square-foot aquaponics greenhouse and STEM program that includes job training, summer skills programs, internships, and research and development. Students sell produce to a large health system and local chefs and restaurants.

Background:
In 2015, the INTAG team of engineers, scientists, and teachers conducted a site survey analysis, consulted with the school district and multiple community stakeholders in central Pennsylvania to design and build a multi-purpose aquaponics living laboratory. The closed-loop system produces no discharge or waste and uses no pesticides or synthetic chemicals, all advantages and significant considerations in educational environments. INTAG built the facility in two weeks and it was fully operational within days. It houses a tilapia tank and two 2’x25′ media beds capable of growing hundreds of pounds of produce year-round and more than 30 types of vegetables and fruits. The INTAG system provides a rich platform for agricultural and biological research, educational programming, skills training, food production, and community involvement.

Since 2015, more than 100 students and a dozen teachers have engaged with the Steelton-Highspire School District Aquaponics Learning Center through:

  • School to Table™ programming including summer internships, entrepreneurship workshops, business classes related to greenhouse operations
  • High school classroom aquaponics elective and dual enrollment in college courses
  • Credit-bearing professional development for teachers of STEM subjects
  • Higher education partnerships with Temple University, Harrisburg University, and Messiah College
  • Emotional support programs
  • After-school and summer jobs

Through School to Table™, the Steel-High program has helped generate a regional impact of more than $2.2 million.

More than a dozen organizations provide support, resources, or community awareness for the the Steelton-Highspire School District Aquaponics Learning Center including: The Wheelhouse, The Roller Foundation, UPMC Pinnacle, SCPa Works, PA Department of Community and Economic Development, Chartwells, Dauphin County Department of Community and Economic Development, ResCare, PA Department of Agriculture, PA Department of Education, Borough of Steelton, and Borough of Highspire.

 

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