Measuring Harvest, Exploring New Tastes

(WV) Wheeling Middle School students apply their math skills to document crop yields as they harvest greens grown in their tower hydroponic system. The crops harvested include Salad Bowl lettuce, Bok choy, Dino Kale (also known as Tuscan kale), and Snap Peas (an edible pea pod).

A middle school math teacher views the salad greens ready for harvest from the hydroponic tower system.
Amy Hensler, a middle school math teacher, views the salad greens ready for harvest from the hydroponic tower system.

Three classes at Wheeling Middle have been using the hydroponic tower system to grow varieties of salad greens with their students. While harvesting the mature plants, students work in teams to measure the height, circumference, number of leaves, average size of leaves, and weight of the plants. Students will use their data analysis as well as the results of their taste testing to assess the quality of their hydroponic crop production.

Teacher guides students from three classes in data collection for snap peas.
Wheeling Middle School teacher Jenny Craig guides students from three classes in data collection for snap peas.

Three teachers at Wheeling Middle, Jenny Craig, Stefanie Boburka, and Amy Hensler, have collaborated together to integrate use of the tower hydroponic system into their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes. Dr. Laurie Ruberg, owner of PLANTS, LLC and school volunteer, assists Wheeling Middle School teachers with the set up and integration of the hydroponic tower to enhance middle school STEM activities.

As part of their taste testing activity, students identified the color, physical features, and leaf texture of the harvested plant. All the students gave each of the four crops a taste.

Students' teacher encourages them to visually examine their Bok Choy harvest and prepare for taste testing leaves.
Stefanie Boburka encourages students to visually examine their Bok Choy harvest and prepare for taste testing leaves.

Student ratings of the crop tastes ranged from bitter to tart to bland. The bitter taste was pleasing to some students who thought they’d enjoy these plants even more in a stir fry or salad.

More harvesting will take place next week when students select recipes and prepare a harvest meal from their tower garden crops–adding a few store-bought ingredients.

 

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