STEEP students present sustainable garden projects | Guam News

(CCG) – Jenna Young and Breanna Tamashiro now know how to “grow” tilapia, okra and eggplant in aquaponics.

The two are among 23 high school students who explained to community members and the media the three types of aquaponics systems they researched, designed and built as part of GCC’s Environmental Education and Sustainable Technologies program. (STEEP) this summer.

“It’s a great program – I learned a lot,” said Tamashiro, a 16-year-old entering John F. Kennedy High School. “I know how to use most of these systems now. I want to try NFT at home, ”she said.

Tamashiro refers to the nutrient film technique (NFT) solar-powered aquaponics system, also known as the ‘tower’ aquaponics system, in which a solar-powered pump brings water to the highest point and gravity lowers the water. water through the pipes, which contain plants, and then into a pond containing guppies.

The wastes generated by guppies serve as essential nutrients for plants.

The students also designed an aquaponics raft system and a media bed fill and drain system.

The raft, or deep-water aquaponics system, “contains a 250-gallon main tank that will be filled with tilapia. The fish produce waste and an underwater pump pumps the water out of the tank and into three growth beds. The water is then recycled from the beds into the tilapia tank, ”explained Francisco“ Kiko ”Palacios, STEEP coordinator and GCC sustainability coordinator.

He says the students also had to learn how to assemble and install the photovoltaic system that powers aquaponics.

“All of these systems use 90% less water,” noted Dr. AJ Sunga, GCC science professor and STEEP instructor. “And in 200 days we’ll have big tilapia here. “

The students also designed raised gardens on GCC’s AutoCAD system and then built them. Raised gardens are called “lasagna”, due to their layered design.

“The first layer is cardboard, which acts as a weed barrier,” said Young, a sophomore at Notre Dame High School. “Then coffee grounds, chicken manure, grass clippings, shredded paper or leaf mulch, then dirt and finally pine needles on top. “

Young says the plants that grow in raised gardens are okra and eggplant.

“It was definitely a great experience,” said Young. “I had never heard of lasagna,” she says.

Young moved to the United States to finish high school, but she says learning all of these techniques has definitely broadened her career possibilities.

Tamashiro wants to become a nurse and says this program has fueled her interest in science.