$49,403 grant will fund aquaponic system, greenhouse among Science Department upgrades
CHELMSFORD, MA (May 17, 2022) – A tilapia farm, an extended growing season and trail cameras will be in the science lesson plans for the 2022-23 academic year at Chelmsford High School, thanks to the Skills Capital Grant which was awarded to CHS in February.
The CHS Science Department, headed by K-12 Science Coordinator Jon Morris, was the recipient of a $49,403 grant from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s Workforce Skills Cabinet. CHS was among 20 high schools and community colleges statewide to receive the grant, which was presented in February.
“We are thrilled about the Skills Capital Grant and the possibilities it creates for our students,” said Mr. Morris. “We’ve begun to purchase equipment which will serve a wide variety of purposes and classes at CHS, with a multitude of applications and experiences for our students.”
The grant came at the opportune time as CHS will launch its Life Sciences Pathway – with a concentration on biotechnology and environmental technology – this fall. Among the equipment purchased is a full aquaponic system which will be calibrated to maintain the growth of 15-20 tilapia, whose waste serves as a nutrient source for leafy green vegetables.
“There are several school districts in the area that currently utilize a similar system,” said Mr. Morris. “Professional development opportunities with these districts will be explored as we look to augment the monitoring and maintenance of the system in our Chemistry and Environmental Studies courses. Students will gain valuable insight into what true sustainability experiences look like from a food and energy perspective.”
The grant also covered the purchase of additional machines – micropipettes, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, centrifuges and gel electrophoresis stations – for each teacher.
“By providing each student with basic technical skills in these areas, elective courses can allow for deeper immersion in the subjects and create more authentic career connections with the content,” Mr. Morris said. “In both the Biology CP and H courses, all students will be immersed in rich experiences related to Biotechnology and Environmental Technology, regardless of their enrollment in the Life Science Pathway.”
The new greenhouse was recently installed next to the Science Pond and will enable for an extended growing season for vegetables and other plants. The greenhouse will also serve as a space where CHS students can study different soils, fertilizers and the effects of moisture on such – valuable insight for the Biology and Environmental Studies courses.
Additionally, 15 trail cameras were purchased to be strategically placed on the CHS, Parker and McCarthy middle school grounds. The cameras will provide local organism data and an authentic database locally and nationally.
“Once we set up these cameras, our students will start compiling data to join Snapshot USA, a collaborative effort to sample mammal populations throughout the U.S.”
CHS’s Life Science Pathway will be offered to incoming freshman beginning the fall of 2022.
About Chelmsford Public Schools
The Chelmsford Public School District provides all students with multiple pathways to optimize their own potential for academic excellence, leadership, and social and emotional wellness. The mission of the Chelmsford Public Schools is to educate, engage, prepare, and empower well-rounded and knowledgeable learners to PERSEVERE through challenges, demonstrate RESPECT and INTEGRITY in their words and actions, are DEDICATED to their community, and display EMPATHY as global citizens while discovering and pursuing their full potential. This PRIDE-driven culture enables all members of the school community to support the growth and development of students. For more information, please visit www.chelmsfordschools.org