Milwaukee Public Schools' Urban Schools Aquaponics initiative has received a two-year, $98,000 contribution from AT&T and the NEA Foundation. The new funding will expand the program into five new schools and reach a total of 1,500 MPS students over a two-year period.
District schools will be encouraged to apply to join the program.
The goal of the contribution is to increase low-income students' interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. The new funding hopes to provide more students with the skills and knowledge needed for jobs in the 21st century, as well as develop curriculum that teachers and schools can use to build similar initiatives across the nation.
Aquaponics is a highly efficient and sustainable form of farming in which water from aquatic animals is used to feed hydroponically grown plants. The plants then filter the water, which is circulated back to the aquatic animals. It's an interesting system that allows students to explore and use math, science and engineering in multiple new ways.
MPS' aquaponics initiative was selected by AT&T and the NEA Foundation due to its early success in advancing STEM education with low-income and minority students. Thanks to the new contribution, the program will now be found in a total of 18 Milwaukee Public Schools.
The funding will ultimately support the development of a comprehensive aquaponics curriculum that would hopefully be available in all MPS high schools, as well as a part of science coursework in all MPS K-8 schools.
New York City's Project EATS, a program of the Active Citizens Project, was also selected to receive a contribution.