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North 5th Graders Learn about Hydroponic Systems

Can plants grow without soil? 

If you’re not sure of the answer, talk to a North Elementary fifth grader. They can not only answer that question, but they can tell you exactly what a plant does need to grow, as well as how to build a hydroponic system at home. 

“Our current science unit discusses plants, plant needs, the food web and how plants don't need soil to grow,” teacher Lauren Taylor said. “The kids were so interested and intrigued by the fact that plants can grow without soil.”

To help encourage that curiosity, Missouri State University graduate student Kara Powelson visited students Aug. 28, showing different hydroponic systems, a growing method that allows plants to grow in a watery solution of mineral nutrients instead of soil. 

“In the 1600s, people started experimenting how to grow plants without soil,” she told students. “Do you know what ‘hydro’ means? It means ‘water.’ And ‘ponos’ means labor.’”

Powelson, who studies plant science, told students what they needed to make a hydroponic system at home and answered their many questions. 

“We can grow food inside with a hydroponic system. A hydroponic system can be super expensive or super cheap,”  Powelson said. “You guys can do this at home. You can grow lettuce in your basement — that’s pretty cool.”

Throughout the science unit, students are learning about germination, what plants need to grow, food chains and food webs. Currently they are growing their own lima beans in soil, and soon they will grow lettuce in a hydroponic system.  

North 5th Graders Learn about Hydroponic Systems