Education

Budding farmers learning skills at Sandys

  • Sandys Secondary Middle School has introduced an aquaponics programme to its STEM curriculum (Photograph supplied)

Middle school pupils will grow and sell vegetables as part of a new indoor farming project.

Sandys Secondary Middle School has introduced an aquaponics programme — a combination of fish and plant production using aquaculture and hydroponics — to its science, technology, engineering and maths curriculum.

Teachers said it was hoped the programme would teach pupils skills for a future industry which could help Bermuda become more self-sufficient.

The school is using nutrient-rich fish water from its existing aquaculture programme to grow plants and vegetables that can be sold.

Cesare Filice, a specialist science resource teacher and STEM coordinator at the school, said: “Locally, we want to expose children to aquaculture and aquaponics to meet the island’s food needs and potential careers.

“Globally, farming reduces the pressure on wild caught species as well as reducing Bermuda’s dependence on other countries for fresh products.”

Sandys said it wanted to expand its plant growing area so more vegetables could be produced.

A school spokesman said: “Having a greater volume of aquaponic plants will allow for a more robust retail return in vegetable sales.

“All incomes and expenditures will be recorded and a statement indicating profit or loss will be produced so these statistics can be real life information used in the school’s business class.”

The Bermuda Technical Alumni Association has helped provide a greenhouse for the project.

STEM studies were introduced to the school’s curriculum in 2013.

The school started a boat building programme and aquaculture programme, which it said was Bermuda’s first middle school STEM project after teachers saw STEM in action at Washington Academy in Maine.

Sandys was also the first recipient of Bermuda’s first commercial aquaculture licence in 2014.

Other projects at the school have included the breeding of tilapia to train pupils in fish farming, which won the Pitch Green category in the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation’s annual Rocket Pitch Competition in 2016.