Science teacher wins FAWQC grant to fund the redesign of current tidal pond biome system

Mrs. Sari Deitche, who has been teaching at Admiral Farragut Academy since 2002, has earned the Florida Association for Water Quality Control (FAWQC) E2 Fund grant for the eleventh year in a row. Mrs. Deitche received her check of $971.38 in front of students on Monday, December 9th.

About the upcoming grant project

“For this year’s FAWQC Project, STEM students will redesign and modify a tidal pond biome system that will include a light source to mimic real environmental conditions,” explained Mrs. Deitche.  “This will be a collaborative effort with our Science Teachers and students.”

This system will sit on top of the Biology classroom’s touch tank and approximately 100 students will be part of the project including students from Marine Science, Marine Science Honors, AP Bio, Bio Honors, Robotics, STEM classes, and 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th grade Lower School classes.

Ms. Rebecca Blake’s Marine Science Honors students will design experiments to grow mangrove seedlings in different substrate and water conditions to see how these different conditions affected the mangrove growth. The Lower School students in 4th through 7th grade will learn how to measure mangrove growth and monitor water quality, such as monitor water levels, salinity, DO, nitrate/nitrite, pH, and other parameters that students research and believe are necessary for their project. Regular measurements of root length, root size (width), root weight, and stem growth (at top of propagule) will be taken and logged. The AP Bio students will design data charts and help calculate the necessary measurements. The older high school students will interpret the data and teach the younger students the importance of the data and what is being discovered through the data and calculations.

About past grant projects

“The last two years, with our FAWQC grant, AFA science students applied the scientific method and performed experiments to predict and evaluate how different soil and environmental conditions affect mangrove health,” said Mrs. Deitche. “This tied directly into classroom discussions and lessons about climate change, water quality, pollutants, and human impacts. The experiment helped explain real-world examples of shoreline erosion and mangrove degradation, as well as opportunities for restoration.”

These experiments have continued and expanded beyond the grant cycle and into the year-long Aquaponics and Aquaculture Program at Farragut with Mrs. Carolyn VanArsdale’s classes. Students from 4th grade through AP Biology will be involved in learning about the importance of mangrove habitats, water quality, plant growth, aquaculture, and sustainability. Farragut’s STEM Program has also become directly involved in the program, with students designing and constructing grow tables and monitoring the Aquaponics and Aquaculture Program.

About FAWQC and the E2 Grant Fund

FAWQC is an association of professionals dedicated to managing, improving, and protecting the quality of Florida’s waters. The FAWQC E2 Fund was established to promote environmental education and awards grants for environmental projects at Florida schools, civic or community organizations, and awards prizes at Florida science fairs. Over the years, FAWQC has given out over $150,000 in grants to schools around the state. E2 Fund grants are awarded based on the proposed project’s overall environmental value as to:

  • Fostering awareness and understanding of a water-related issue;
  • Being cost-effective;
  • Basing the project on sound scientific principles;
  • Promoting the involvement of students or citizens; and,
  • Promoting the enhancement of a water resource or associated habitat.