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23.1 Introduction

4 months ago

3 min read

Sustainable food production and consumption are important societal challenges. Growing populations, scarcity of arable land, and urbanization are all important factors in this area, leading to a growing interest in new sustainable food production technologies, which are not necessarily confined to maritime or rural settings. Aquaponics is one of these technologies that has received increased attention, in particular, since it can easily be applied also in urban environments. These new technologies, including aquaponics, also offer new opportunities as learning tools for people of all ages, but it is particularly appealing for young people at school. This chapter reports on the findings from the educational Growing Blue & Green (GBG) program that has been developed and tested in educational settings in the Greater Copenhagen area. Additional studies also suggest that there appears to be potential for using aquaponics as a key way of learning about sustainable food production in a wide spectrum of academic disciplines at school since it can readily be integrated into the existing educational curriculum. A few studies have examined the application of aquaponics in an educational context. Graber et al. (2014) studied the potential of aquaponics as a food production method for urban areas teaching seventh-grade pupils sustainability issues in science classes. The idea behind the concept was to introduce and train students on "systems thinking" by combining fish and plant growing. Junge et al. (2014) showed that the students' ability to think in a systematic way improved significantly as a result. The study also suggested that building on social learning in groups the students developed greater teamwork skills. However, apart from these examples, aquaponics literature is relatively limited and most of the available articles have focused on the technological aspects of the systems. This chapter attempts to fill this knowledge gap by exploring the opportunities for integrating aquaponic technology into school learning and to uncover some of the constraints as well as the opportunities.

The chapter draws on three empirical cases, where aquaponics has been applied in primary school settings in the Greater Copenhagen area. This includes an exploratory study on the educational opportunities at school (Bosire et al. 2016), a feasibility study carried out among teachers (Bosire and Sikora 2017), as well as the insights from the first part of an educational Growing Blue & Green study (Toth and Mikkelsen 2018).

The aim of this chapter is thus to introduce and discuss educational aquaponic interventions in which aquaponics is used in an elementary school in Denmark and to discuss how theory can be taken into practice. The chapter discusses the potential of aquaponics to be able to contribute to the fostering of a deeper learning about urban, sustainable food production among young school children in school settings, as well as the potentials for creating digital literacy through the addition of a selfregulating digital sensing and maintenance tool, i.e., the eGBG tool.