hydroponics for kids

Hydroponics is the act of cultivating and supporting the growth and nutrition of plants solely through water rather than soil. Hydroponics is very useful for farmers because it allows them to grow large numbers of plants in smaller areas. It also allows people in areas with poor soil the ability to continue growing plants, simply by creating a controlled hydroponics tank.

Children can usually become very excited and interested in the life cycle of a seed when presented with general information. Hydroponics is probably the easiest and most practical strategy that you can share with them. The children may be in charge of all or most of the tasks required to support the hydroponic tank, which will engage them in this project and, in turn, help them learn more effectively.

First, you need to gather the appropriate supplies to create your hydroponic tank. You will need: a gallon-sized container with dark sides to prevent light damage to the roots, several empty egg cartons, liquid hydroponic nutrient, bleach, several packets of bean seeds, small containers with lids for sprouting seedlings, and coffee filters. Later, as the plants start to grow, you’ll need to buy string and straws to hold them up.

To sprout the seedlings, place 5 to 10 seeds inside a coffee filter and place them inside the smaller containers. Fill the container with water, allow the seeds to soak for 10 minutes, then drain and replace the lid tightly. Soak the seeds like this every day until the roots and stems begin to grow large enough to place in the hydroponic tank. This will take 7-10 days. If you notice mold starting to form, add 1 teaspoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water and rinse the seeds with that mixture until the mold dissipates.

Prepare the hydroponic tank by filling the large gallon tank with water a few days before transferring the seedlings so the water has time to change to room temperature. Mix the appropriate amount of nutrient solution with the water. Cut small holes in the bottom of the egg cartons where each egg would have been. When the seedlings have 2 to 3-inch roots, gently place them into the holes of the egg carton. Place the egg cartons in the nutrient water tank, root side down.

Place the tank in a well lit area. Have the children measure the growth of the seedlings every day and keep a chart of their growth. As the seedlings sprout taller, tape the straws to the sides of the tank and gently attach the plant stem to the straw with string. This will help support the stems so they don’t break. In 4-6 weeks the beans will start to sprout. When the beans reach 5 to 6 inches in length and a deep green color, they can be picked and eaten.

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