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We offer a variety of educational programming for all ages around circular economy topics.

We’re happy to host school field trips to teach students about the science and social value behind our work. We’ve hosted school, university, and corporate groups from all over the world!


Although the programming listed below was developed for school groups, it can be easily adapted for adults. You can also find topical adult workshops here.


Aquaponics: Design Challenge 
Delve deeper into the science behind aquaponics and explore the nitrogen cycle! Students are challenged to build their own aquaponic system (not for taking home) using predetermined materials. (Recommended for 6th grade – Adult)

Aquaponics: Water Chemistry
If your class is studying the nitrogen cycle, this lab is for you! Using our aquaponics system as a field site, students use the scientific method to test water for various levels of ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and phosphates. Explore what makes “healthy” water for fish, plants, and humans! (Recommended for 6th-12th grade)

Circular Economy
Challenge your students to think critically about our consumption and solve real world problems! This team oriented workshop shows the feasibility of designing circular systems for communities both big and small. Students work together to propose ideas for people to minimize ‘waste,’ increase efficiency, and close resource and energy loops. (Recommended for 9th grade – Adult)

Life Cycle of a Salad
In this workshop students learn about our aquaponic system, harvest greens, make their own salad, eat the salad, and compost their scraps in our worm composting bins. Explore the various loops and cycles of a typical salad by considering what nutrients fish, plants, humans, and worms need to survive, and how they are all connected. (Recommended for 1st-6th grade)


As nature’s recyclers, fungi play an important role in our ecosystem. In this workshop, students learn the history of fungi as well as their many uses in nature and society. Students will also get the chance to view mushroom spores under a microscope and practice cultivation techniques including cloning and mycelium transfers in an active mycology lab. (Great for any age group)

Native Pollinators
Students dive into the world of pollinators using microscopes, our indoor honey bee hive, and outdoor observations as learning tools. Explore the importance of pollinators native to Illinois for the health of our communities. (Recommended for 1st-6th grade)

Students build a worm bin to take back to their classroom (let us know if you don’t want a worm bin). Learn more about producers, decomposers, and consumers with this interactive worm workshop. Participants discuss the importance of composting and reducing waste. (Recommended for 1st-6th grade)


Please allow up to one week to hear back from us about scheduling.


During Closed Loop Labs, students develop a deeper understanding of circular economies, sustainability, and ecology through supervised, interactive projects. Labs are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and can be adapted for adult audiences. 

Click here for details on NGSS alignment.


  • Closed Loop Lab Base Rate: $200 with sliding scale options available

  • Closed Loop Labs are free to Back of the Yards residents and schools



Virtual and in-person Closed Loop Labs are offered Tuesday through Saturday and typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. 

We can tailor your visit to highlight different aspects of food production, energy, or material reuse. Students can see closed loop systems in action including an aquaponics farm, indoor victory garden, compost gardens, and more.

Our space has a large staircase leading up to our second floor classroom. Let us know in advance if anyone in your group cannot do stairs, so we can plan accordingly.

To stay updated with our programs, please subscribe to our Educators Newsletter.

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