Learning about food production in an indoor school farm excites students and prepares them for a lifetime of healthy eating. It opens up opportunities for children to gain valuable experience in agriculture and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as business and marketing. These hands-on learning activities appeal to students of all grades. Here are 20 lessons from indoor school farms you can use as a starting point for your elementary school curriculum.
20 Container Farm Lessons for Elementary Students
Students of any age can participate, learning about the early lifecycle of their chosen crop. Seeds are inexpensive, so students don’t need to be too careful with them. Sowing seeds is a hands-on activity that helps with dexterity. It’s also educational, as students will learn the vast differences between hydroponic horticulture and traditional outdoor agriculture.
Students as young as second grade can be involved in transplanting plants from the nursery to your shipping container farm after they sprout. Young children will improve their fine motor skills by transplanting delicate seedlings without damaging the leaves and stems. They’ll also learn the importance of distancing the plants so there’s enough space for them to grow and mature fully.
Students should be able to monitor and report pH levels of a nutrient solution to understand how the plant develops over time. In chemistry, the pH scale identifies the acidity or basicity of a liquid solution. Monitoring plant growth in a shipping container farm is also a great way to teach patience, observation skills, reporting and chemistry basics.
Harvesting is a fun time for students as they’ll see their hard work come to fruition. Students should always harvest with a teacher or supervisor directing them. Students will learn how to recognize when plants are mature and best practices for ensuring the product is clean, preserved and safely packaged.
5. Food Safety
Container farms promote a green lifestyle. Through vertical farming, kids can learn about the benefits of cleanliness and use best practices to harvest produce while wearing gloves, hairnets and more. They’ll also learn how to properly label and store goods for transfer to the local market or school kitchen.
STEM Lessons from School Farms
6. Scientific Method
Young scientific minds can test a variety of ideas when it comes to how plants grow and what affects their growth. Educators can enhance their teachings with a supplemental curriculum focusing on deep-dive research, developing a reasonable hypothesis, and then proving or disproving it. The scientific method involves careful observation and skepticism of what’s being examined. It encourages observing, asking pointed questions, and also seeking answers through experiments and further testing.
7. Data Collection
A hydroponic shipping container farm can also teach students data skills. Students can record nutrients, produce weights, and other critical data points. They’ll learn how to categorize and analyze data to recommend changes for improving plant growth.
8. Biology Skills
Students will learn how specific crops react to chemical processes and how to problem-solve issues that may arise in an enclosed environment. Students will also master basic horticulture principles like plant structure (like leaf, stem and roots) and understand the distinct differences between each one.
9. Chemistry Skills at School Farms
A container farm is an appropriate introduction to chemistry basics. While students might not be mixing nutrients in the system’s water (which is a task an adult should handle), they’ll observe and consider how these chemicals work together to provide nutrients to plant life.
10. Math Skills
Students can use math skills to calculate the number of fruit and vegetables produced, their weight and other practical values. This can be a starting point to discuss addition, subtraction, multiplication, long division and averages.
Business Lessons from School Farms
11. Business Plans and Development
Advanced students can combine information from previous lessons to develop a strategic business plan. They can also “sell” produce to the school cafeteria in exchange for fake money or small prizes. Or they can create a plan to sell or give away their wares to the local community at a farmers’ market.
12. Supply and Demand
Like a beginning economics class, shipping container farm activities can teach students supply and demand and how it works in the real world. The law of supply and demand is the relationship between the quantity of a commodity for sale versus the amount consumers want to buy. This can help future entrepreneurs, investors and economists understand and predict market conditions.
13. Establishing a Farmers’ Market Booth
Taking your commodities to a farmers’ market is a terrific way to show students how everyday business works. From developing a business plan to crafting advertising and setting up shop, attending a farmers’ market also teaches students how to interact with customers, handle money and create a business plan.
You can use your shipping container farm to teach your students accounting as well. Students can use real or fake values to calculate profit margins, returns on investment and inventory changes. They can also practice their economic skills to price items based on the law of supply and demand.
Marketing Lessons from School Farms
15. Content Creation
Students can also develop and hone their marketing skills in various ways with a shipping container farm. They can write blog-style essays about their experiences to hone their writing skills. As they obtain more knowledge and experience, students can also create tutorials about simple farming tasks for classmates.
16. School Farms and Social Media
Integrating social media into the mix will teach students how to interact online safely. Classmates can track the growth of their crops and report their findings online. They can also post about their experiences and interact with each other’s content to learn the value of creativity and customer engagement on social media.
17. Website Design
For advanced students or those interested in computer science, websites can showcase the production efforts of the school and publicize the successes and challenges of container farming to parents and the wider community. Working on a website fosters creativity and teamwork by strengthening design, photography and keen writing skills.
Having the entire classroom working on a farming project requires strong communication skills from all participants. Students must work together and communicate effectively to plan and execute all the tasks of container farming. Keeping an open dialogue is critical, and crafting instruction pages or tutorials can test their skills even more while improving information retention.
19. Graphic Design
Students can create logos, graphics and supplemental material for other shipping container farm projects, including social media, marketing and communication. Branding can help students take ownership of the farm, naming and designing a recognizable brand as they learn about scale, perspective and color theory. Marketing also allows students to take ownership of the project and generate their own ideas.
20. Print Materials for School Farms
Intermediate-level students can design brochures that list the produce their farm grows and what each one looks like during its different life stages. They can also make pamphlets that describe the specific systems inside a container farm and the role that each one plays during a crop’s development.
School Farms Summary
From growing and harvesting to social media marketing and business planning, hydroponic shipping container farms offer plenty of opportunities for students to expand their minds. They continue to provide value for developing kids throughout their educational journey at every step.
Have questions? Pure Greens is an industry leader in container-based modifications. We provide various interior layouts, sizes and designs. Contact us today for more information.
Need more inspiration? Next, learn the top 10 benefits of hydroponic farming.