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Westside Elementary STEM initiative teaches children & feeds the hungry | Schools

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Westside Elementary STEM initiative teaches children & feeds the hungry
Westside Elementary STEM initiative teaches children & feeds the hungry

HOUSTON COUNTY, GA – Westside Elementary School has received 20 Tower Gardens to grow organic food on the campus using a vertical aeroponic system.  On May 14 at 10:00 a.m., Principal Dr. Cynthia Hammond and Superintendent Dr. Robin Hines will “plant” the first seeds in the towers.

This science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiative grows plants from seeds using water and nutrients.  Soil, pesticides and light are not required.  Each compact tower can grow as many as 44 plants in about 30 days.  The farm can produce a variety of vegetables and fruits such as raspberries, tomatoes, cabbage, basil and cilantro. 

IMPACTorg and Americans for Schools are partnering to provide Westside with the Tower Gardens as a pilot program.  If all goes well, all 38 Houston County schools will be offered similar aeroponic or aquaponic farm systems. 

"This pilot effort is designed to bolster STEM education by giving students hands-on experience as farmers growing fruits and vegetables," said Sean Kumar, chief philanthropy officer for IMPACTorg. "Then we add a social lesson to what is learned by teaching the students to give back to their community by donating the produce to the needy, or selling it to raise funds for more educational materials and technology."

One tower can grow 880 heads of lettuce a month - which equates to about 3,520 salads.  Enough food could be generated to feed approximately 30 people a day, or 32,400 meals a year.  The school may donate the food to a neighborhood food bank or sell it as a fundraiser. 

Dr. Hammond commented, “I'm extremely excited that the aeroponic Tower Gardens will be installed and maintained at Westside!  As we begin our journey toward STEM certification, this production system will definitely help our students develop a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and math.  It will give students an awareness of how the towers are engineered to produce fruits and vegetables with just water and air.  In addition, my students will maintain, gather and distribute food to the community in which they live and beyond.  This is a blessing for my students, parents and staff.”

A Tower Garden is 2.5’ x 2.5’ and uses stacking pots for the plants.  Eleven pots may be stacked to result in 44 plant per tower.  In addition, the systems may be remotely managed via computers.

The first Tower Garden installed at Westside is pictured.  The other photo is an example of a producing tower.  Westside Elementary is located at 201 North Pleasant Hill Road in in Warner Robins.  For more information, please contact Dr. Hammond at 478-929-7820.


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