UW Madison Wisconsin Chapter Vertical Aquaponics System Progress Update
Over the past 8 months we have hit a number of major milestones. Most of them are related to funding and outreach opportunities we have been given. Through the university we were awarded an additional grant to fund the construction of our project, with enough money to build a large scale system as well as a smaller scale system for a greenhouse. Additionally, we have decided to partner with a local community food organization and middle school to implement these projects, which we are projected to officially implement spring of 2023. In terms of construction, we are in the process of installing the plumbing system for the aquaponics system, which we’ve ordered all the required materials for. We’ve finished building the frame and fish tank for our large vertical aquaponics system, which took 2 months to build. We are looking to finish the construction by the end of September.
Project Plan & Evaluation: Overall, this project is far greater of an endeavor than we could have imagined. As of right now we are roughly 40% through the project, with the most difficult section past us. Most of the issues we ran into came from logistical processes, we are required to run almost everything through the school since we were awarded a grant through them as well. For example, with ordering materials, we had long shipping times, concerns related to having workbench access, getting shop certified to use the heavy machinery, expense reports for reimbursement, etc. Additionally, we dealt with issues related to material usage, specifically warping of wood, which was a huge set back and we were required to revise our dimensions to account for the shift in shape. However, we are still following the constructed pathway that we created in early March, starting with the development of a frame, then plumbing systems, then filters, biological components, then finally the solar components. We have revised our timeline which hopefully gives a more accurate and realistic projection of our project considering where we stand right now. Where we hope to finish building our final prototype by the end of September.
One of our long term goals for this project is to be able to give a foundational understanding of food systems, sustainability, STEAM principles, and systems thinking for youth. We believe that this project serves as a vital interactive element for the learning process, which will give the users the opportunity to develop a technical and interpersonal understanding of social, cultural, and scientific expressions of sustainability, which will be highlighted through growing their very own plants and maintaining the system. Additionally, this project serves as a platform for underrepresented youth to explore sustainability career options, understandings, and initiatives which they may be systematically excluded from. Ultimately, this project is a fun initiative that hopes to engage students through core concepts of self-sustainability and renewable technology.
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