Melody Crook, a 3rd grade teacher at Lincoln Elementary school in Escondido has cultivated an exciting project-based-learning opportunity for her students. After hearing about the different types of gardening during a presentation by Dawn Stone, the Nutrition Services Specialist at Escondido Union School District, Melody sprouted the idea of bringing Hydroponic Gardening into the classroom.

Last year, Melody received permission from Lincoln Elementary Principle, Angel Gotay to make her vision a reality. One week before school started, Crook transplanted her hydroponic growing system from her dining room table into the classroom setting.

The hydroponic growing room is being used five days a week for enrichment classes in the morning, as well as afterschool teaching sessions three days a week. Students are now growing romaine, buttercrunch loose leaf lettuce, four varieties of cherry tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and snow peas. Students are eager to start growing strawberries and watermelons, and look forward to building an inverted growing system.

Through the hydroponic garden students are graphing the growth and averaging the size of lettuce, self-pollinating tomato plants, monitoring pH levels in the water, learning the technology behind hydroponic gardening, building character, working together, providing healthy produce for the school cafeteria, and most importantly- creating lasting memories of their time at Lincoln Elementary.

Crook encourages her students to think critically on how to feed the planet, sustain the population in the future, and whether they will “take up space, or make the world a better place”.