MPS aquaponics programming expanding thanks to $98,000 from AT&T, NEA Foundation

Written by MCJStaff   // January 30, 2014   // 0 Comments

BRADLEYTECH_ATT_NEAF_AQUAPONICS21 MPS’ aquaponics program is getting a boost thanks to AT&T and the NEA Foundation; pictured from left to right: Bradley Tech High School Principal Jody Bloyer, Growing Power CEO Will Allen, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Bradley Tech teacher Rochelle Sandrin, Bradley Tech student Odell Chalmers, AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden, MPS STEM Director Lena Patton, Wisconsin Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Thompson, and MTEA Executive Director Lauren Baker



Tony Tagliavia

MILWAUKEE (January 29, 2014)  AT&T and the NEA Foundation are teaming up to increase low-income students interest in STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education by supporting Milwaukee Public Schools Urban Schools Aquaponics initiative through a
two-year contribution that  includes $98,000 that will directly impact the program.

The goal: provide more students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need for 21st century jobs and develop curriculum and instructional
content that educators can use to build similar programs nationwide.

Projects like these empower educators to develop and use proven practices to deliver rigorous, engaging learning experiences that we know
excite and interest underrepresented student groups in STEM, said Harriet Sanford, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation.

In order to keep our country’s economic growth and innovation engine moving, it’s critical that we develop STEM skills in our young
people, said Scott T. VanderSanden, president of AT&T Wisconsin. Programs like this one with the NEA Foundation ignite the interest of
the next generation in the STEM skills they’ll need to succeed throughexciting, real-world applications.

MPS Urban Schools Aquaponics (USA) initiative was selected because of its early success in advancing STEM education among low-income and
minority students. The contribution will support the expansion of the program to five new schools, reaching a total of 1,500 MPS students over
two years.

It will also support the development of a cohesive, comprehensive aquaponics curriculum aligned with the newly released math and science
standards that will be piloted in the participating schools. Ultimately, aquaponics coursework would be available in all MPS high schools and it
would be a component of science coursework in all MPS K-8 schools, with the potential to reach all 78,500 students in the district.

Aquaponics is a strong part of our STEM education efforts and we’re grateful and proud to be able to strengthen and grow that program, said
MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton.  This program gives students hands-on STEM experience, and exposes them to career options in a new and growing field.

Aquaponics is a highly efficient and sustainable form of farming in which water from aquatic animals is used to feed hydroponically grown plants.
The plants filter the water, which is then re-circulated back to the fish.  Aquaponics programs enable students to use and explore science, math and
engineering principles in a variety of ways as they gain valuable 21st century skills and knowledge.

Through its Aquaponics program, MPS is providing our young people with the STEM education they need to be prepared for careers in the 21st
Century, said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  We are excited this innovative program is expanding to reach even more students thanks to this
public-private partnership.

Over the last three years, MPS Urban Schools Aquaponics initiative hasbeen integrated into nine new schools, thanks in part to support from the
NEA Foundation and the AT&T Foundation.  This new contribution will support five new schools, for a total of 18 Milwaukee public schools.

Research indicates that under performance in STEM education arises from a variety of complex issues: teachers with little professional support;
inadequate alignment of standards and curriculum; and insufficient understanding of the relevance to students’ lives about the need to
achieve in these subjects. This project will focus on providing more personal, engaging, coordinated, and consistent STEM learning.

MPS Aquaponics initiative is one of two contributions awarded nationally as part of a $300,000 total contribution that will also support
the development of case studies and evaluation of the two programs from fall 2013 through fall 2015. Project EATS(, a program of the Active Citizens Project, in New York City, NY, was alsoselected.

Formative and summative evaluation will be employed throughout the funding period to assess progress in both cities, to identify areas for
improvement, gather evidence of success, and enable future replication in schools across the country, with the goal of increasing high school
students engagement, interest, and excellence in STEM.

Read more about the foundations STEM work in the NEA Foundation report, Harnessing the Potential of Innovative STEM Education Programs: Stories of Collaboration, Connectedness and Empowerment



careers in the 21st Century

Milwaukee Public Schools Urban Schools Aquaponics initiative


NEA Foundation


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