Science research project provides vegetables for L-Cafe

Bella Francavilla, Staff Writer

The halls at Liberty are going to be greener, thanks to Mark Buchli’s AP physics class. The class is currently improving the old aqua phonics lab they were using last year to grow fresh vegetables.
“Aquaponics, which is basically a combination of hydro phonics (growing plants with water) and raising fish, is when we feed the fish and then the fish waste gives nutrients for the plants to grow. So it’s a cycle, the fish eat and produce waste, plants take the waste in and filter the water, and the filtered water goes back into the tank,” senior Tyra Christopherson said.
The project had started last year and is now going to become annual while also being improved.
“We have our own shed, back behind the wood and metal shop. So right now we are working on scaling up our system. We are getting a much bigger tank and we are getting like 50 fish, tilapia,” senior Carlyn Schmidgall said. “We’re working on designing the system so that it sustains itself then we’re going to hopefully be able to conduct individual projects, so each student submits a proposal and then study their topic.”
The produce, once grown, will be given to the L-Café where the veggies will be cooked into or for the meals served to Liberty students. The class is also trying to give the veggies to DECA and basic Foods courses.
“It’s a yearlong project going on right now, and its one period. All five of us get together and work on it. As soon as the plants start growing it’s when we will think about selling the produce to the L-Café,” Christopherson said.
“We are going to be providing Liberty kids with real world relevant research opportunities and developing a business plan that provides culinary arts and foods kids and maybe even the DECA store with fresh greens.” Buchli said.
In addition to new technology, the lab group of five students will be completing is going to be designed and expanded to provide more veggies.
“We are also modeling the system using a computer program called Stella, which models stuff and designs. We are trying to find a way to test the water quality using mass spectrometers,” Schmidgall said.
“It’s to extend the scientific research aspect of a project into economics and business,” Buchli said.
Together, five students will be expanding and improving the old aqua phonics lab while also improving Liberty as well.