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September 25, 2018

PACS Science Club builds aquaponics project


The Pulaski High School Science Club was formed by teachers Carl Nylen and Thomas Pullen to increase students’ interest in science outside of the classroom setting. The co-advisors hoped to work on projects that would teach students the importance of sustainability and conservation of the world’s resources.

Pulaski High School science teacher Carl Nylen, right, examines root growth from one of the many plants from the PACS Science Club’s aquaponics project as science club members Matt McNitt, left, and Alex Pettingill, center, look on.

Pulaski High School science teacher Carl Nylen, right, examines root growth from one of the many plants from the PACS Science Club’s aquaponics project as science club members Matt McNitt, left, and Alex Pettingill, center, look on.

Together with students in the club they developed a plan for a small scale aquaponics project that would enable the group to grow vegetables in a self-sustaining, symbiotic relationship with fish.

The students built the project using recycled and repurposed items along with funds from a community endowment grant. The project contains a barrel that houses approximately 10 tilapia fish connected to several long pvc pipes that have holes cut into them that hold pots that house the various vegetable plants.

The plants’ root system will draw nutrients from the water that is pumped through the pipes and the nutrients and oxygen given off by the plant growth will be recirculated back into the fish holding tank to benefit the fish.

In a true hands-on approach to science, the students document, update and collect project data, monitoring the system for water and electrical usage, as well as tracking fish growth, plant growth, water pH levels, water and air temperature, water ion concentration and much more.

Matt McNitt collects data from the fish housed in the barrel that supplies water to the aquaponics project built by students in Science Club at Pulaski High School.

Matt McNitt collects data from the fish housed in the barrel that supplies water to the aquaponics project built by students in Science Club at Pulaski High School.

The students track how changes to the environment affect plant and fish growth, creating a better understanding of the symbiotic relationship that exists on the earth, giving them a deeper appreciation of its resources.

Currently, the students have planted lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, squash and other vegetables and hope to continue to fund their project through the sale of the vegetables to staff and students at the school.

The aquaponics project is not the only undertaking of the science club this year.

The students plan to tap maple trees and will create maple syrup using an evaporator they designed and built themselves.

Alex Pettingill, left, Michael Visco, center and Matt McNitt are three of the students who helped build the aquaponics set up along with co-advisors Carl Nylen and Thomas Pullen. The project serves as a self-sustaining experiment in the afterschool extracurricular Science Club.

Alex Pettingill, left, Michael Visco, center and Matt McNitt are three of the students who helped build the aquaponics set up along with co-advisors Carl Nylen and Thomas Pullen. The project serves as a self-sustaining experiment in the afterschool extracurricular Science Club.

The students will power their evaporator using biodiesel they generate in their own biodiesel processor.

The students also plan to sell their maple syrup to fund their projects making the club self-sustaining like their aquaponics project.

The club also plans to share some of itstheir projects with students in other districts including the biodiesel production plant. They hope by taking their project ideas on the road, it will inspire other students to make a difference in the world.

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