Fifth Grade Humanitarians

Research Question: How can we use alternative, sustainable growing solutions to address local and global hunger?

Our STEM work has evolved into a beautiful humanitarian project. Each year we immerse our students in simulations, documentaries, novels, articles, authentic problem solving, and hands on encounters concerning local and global hunger issues and possible solutions. Through the years, we have successfully built multiple hydroponic, aquaponic, and vertical gardening systems. These are alternative growing techniques used to address hunger issues caused by soil erosion, soil accessibility, and the lack of water access. Our goal for our fifth graders at Brookwood is to leave with a true understanding and concern for the real hunger struggles of their neighbors locally and globally and how they can help address those issues.

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RQ 5

Connecting Hearts to Hunger:

It is essential for our students to be emotionally invested in our STEM research project in order to trigger interest and spur engagement. Near the beginning of each year, we involve our students in a hunger simulation. This simulation allows them to experience the uneven distribution of food in our world. The students are able to have an authentic understanding of how hunger looks and feels. It also drives home the fact that “hungry people” are not only in countries across seas, these people are our neighbors.

Use of Data:

  • Fish feeding data (amount of food/dates of feedings)
  • Testing bacteria levels to ensure stability of aquaponics systems (PH, Nitrite, Nitrate, and Ammonium)
  • GMO/non GMO plant growth comparison to analyze most efficient growth and taste differences

UD 2

UD 1

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Our Partners: 

  • Fiddleheads
  • Modern Woodmen- awarded grant to purchase additional aquaponics units
  • Bradley Wellness Center
  • National Fish Hatcher
  • Anne E. Berg – Author of Serafina’s Promise
  • Launa Vaughn – Communications and Missions Pastor at Hope Fellowship Church

Civic Contributions to our Community:

gmo nongmo talking to man

  • Shared knowledge of alternative growing methods and GMOs/non-GMOs at Bradley Wellness Center.
  • Donated recycled bucket gardens to City of Refuge.
  • Labeled neighborhood water runoff drains in order to preserve water quality at Lakeshore Park.

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Integration of Core Curriculum with Research:


  • Reflections on articles, documentaries, simulations, etc.
  • Narratives based on STEM experiences
  • Opinion pieces and informational writing based on knowledge gained from documentaries and articles

5th grade writing What the World Eats


  • Measuring trout growth
  • Test and measure PH levels, nitrite levels, nitrate levels, and ammonium levels of each aquaponics system

Social Studies:

  • Making connections between causes of hunger and SS standards – war (Korean War, Vietnam War, World War I, World War II), government control (democracy, socialism, and communism), natural disasters (the Dust Bowl)


  • Making connections between causes of hunger and Science standards – erosion and deconstructive forces (tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanoes)




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