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Urban Agriculture at FSCJ: The Science of Aquaponics

Hydroponics, Aquaponics and more

Learning Unit Information

Content and Learning Objectives: 

The Purpose and Goals of Aquaponics

  • Differentiate between aquaculture, hydroponics, and aquaponics.

  • List the main goals and purposes of aquaponics.

  • Describe how aquaponics works.

  • List the major components of an aquaponics system.

The Scientific Approach to Aquaponics

  • List the main scientific disciplines relating to each component of aquaponics systems.

  • Distinguish between examples of the application of mathematics in aquaponics.

  • Identify examples that demonstrate why a scientific approach to aquaponics is a worthy endeavor.

Scientific Reasoning and the Nature of Science

  • Define science.

  • Recognize the diversity among scientists.

  • List some characteristics common among scientists.

  • Identify the processes of scientific reasoning.

  • Differentiate between qualitative and quantitative data, observation and inference, and deductive and inductive reasoning.

  • Define and give examples of science, non-science, and pseudoscience.

  • Differentiate between basic and applied research.

The Scientific Method

  • Recognize the Scientific Method and its applications.

  • Differentiate between the common use of the term “theory” and a scientific theory.

  • List the main steps of the scientific method.

  • Define “hypothesis.”

  • Distinguish between the dependent and the independent variable.

Exponents and Logarithms

  • Calculate logarithms and exponents accurately.

  • Find the base in an equation for exponents by looking at patterns in numbers or graphs.

  • Differentiate between patterns of numbers that produce a J-shaped graph and a log graph.

  • Explain the algebraic relationships between pH and the hydrogen ion concentration.

Scientific Notation and Significant Numbers

  • Explain the importance of scientific notation and significant figures.

  • Define “significant figures.”

  • Write scientific notation.

  • Formulate ordinary notation from scientific notation.

  • Apply appropriate rules to determine the number of significant figures.

  • Apply appropriate rules to round numbers used for measurements.

  • Define “accuracy” and “precision.”

  • Compare exact and defined numbers.

The Metric System

  • Apply metric units according to their prefixes and bases.

  • Differentiate between units of length, mass, and volume.

  • Convert between metric units of the same unit type.


  • Define acids, bases, and buffers.

  • Recall how pH is measured and expressed mathematically.

  • Recognize acidity and alkalinity.

  • Identify optimal pH levels for components of living systems, such as aquaponics.

  • Identify the result of a neutralization reaction involving an acid and a base.

The Role of Oxygen in Living Systems

  • Recognize the cellular role of oxygen in biological systems.

  • Determine why plants and animals need oxygen

  • Differentiate between dissolved oxygen (O2) in water and atmospheric oxygen.

  • Identify the factors that affect the behavior of dissolved O2 in water.

  • Determine how to influence or control the amount of dissolved O2 in an aquatic system to promote a healthy aquatic system.


  • Identify macronutrients and micronutrients.

  • Recognize the problems associated with excess nutrients.

  • Determine the sources of nutrient pollution.

Nitrogen Cycle

  • Identify nitrogen-fixing bacteria species.

  • Identify ammonia, ammonium, nitrites, nitrates, and their chemical reactions.

  • List factors that affect the pH of an aquaponics system and their impacts.

Food Borne Pathogens and Health Safety

  • Recognize the major concepts of food borne pathogens.

  • Determine why food safety concerns become critical.

  • Evaluate the importance of the identification of pathogens in an aquaponics.

  • Identify microbial threats to food safety.

  • Identify best practices in aquaponics farms to eliminate the sources of the pathogens.

Managing the FSCJ Aquaponic MiniFarm

  • Identify the main components of the aquaponics system used at FSCJ.

  • List the variables that are measured regularly in an aquaponics system.

  • Measure the important variables in an aquaponics system.

  • Recognize the weak points in an aquaponics system and areas that need to be checked to ensure proper function.