Educator Spotlight: Bob Hooper and the Farm on Wheels

Posted by Perry Baptista on August 19, 2014

Inspiring Creativity with the Farm on Wheels

As you read in our previous post on Teaching Hydroponics in the Classroom, there are a lot of passionate educators out there instilling creativity and innovation in their students.

But educators aren't just using hydroponic technology to encourage innovation among students - they're becoming innovators themselves.

Bob Hooper, of Freeman Elementary, has not only brought aquaponics to his elementary classroom, he's sharing a compact setup with the entire school with his Farm On Wheels (or FOW).

Bringing Learning to Life

The first of its kind, Hooper's FOW combines four ZipGrow towers, a fish tank, grow lights, and work station into a compact, movable package. With with potential to produce powerful hands-on experiences for their students, all the teachers at Freeman Elementary in Flint, Michigan want one.

And if we had a classroom, we'd want one, too!

The FOW has been a hit with students, too, and Bob is excited to share the mobile farm concept to give even more students this incredible hands-on STEM experience.

Introducing: The Farm on Wheels

According to Bob Hooper, "The FOW is a complete aquaponics set up with two 30 gallon tanks for fish, a sump tank, pump, four towers (can expand to 8) and grow lights on a timer, a place to plant and grow starter seedlings and even a worm bin."

"I am pleased to announce that I have just completed the first "wet run" and the system is running as designed," Hooper explains.

The Curriculum

Bob Hooper's Farm on Wheels The first prototype of Hooper's Farm on Wheels.

The FOW is for students across a wide range of grade levels from kindergarten to 6th grade. "The FOW will be used as a learning center and the plan is to run most of our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum through it," says Hooper. As of now, teachers are already incorporating the FOW into existing curriculum and developing new lessons on their own.

"The students will operate the farm themselves, right in the classroom, and will make all the decisions as to what crops to raise, how to manage the livestock (i.e. fish) and what to do with the produce (subsistence, for profit, etc)...This year, two teachers are very excited about building the majority of their curriculum around food and training students to manage their own farm and farmers market."

Already, the project has received praise from students, parents, teachers, and others. "I ran a modified FOW last year as a joint project between 4th and 6th graders. We grew cucumbers, made vinegar and used it to make pickles. Reaction was very positive and our project was featured at a school board meeting."

With early success from a FOW prototype, we're sure that updated designs will do just as well.

Experiential Education: A Central Theme

The Farm on Wheels not only brings a new science experiment to the classroom, but it engages students across grade levels and social backgrounds. Experiential learning through this very hands-on project leaves students with practical life skills and knowledge.

"The FOW is used as a hands on platform, as well as a central theme for making learning meaningful for the students. (Everyone eats!)" says Hooper.

Bob Hooper epitomizes the excitement of educators using hydroponics and aquaponics - and we bet that transfers directly to students, improving their learning experience and retention.

Ready to start growing in your classroom?

People like Bob Hooper are taking initiative and using their creativity to change student's lives across the world. Learn about other educators starting classroom gardens and how you can join their ranks:

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Topics: Spotlights, In the Classroom

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