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Past Virtual Closed Loop Lab Materials

Our Virtual Closed Loop Lab series was designed for teachers and parents looking to engage their students in science and sustainability topics through the quarantine era. Plant Chicago hosted virtual labs every Thursday from 1-2 pm through the end of the 2019-20 school year. From aquaponics to waste audits, explore a new topic each week with Plant Chicago!

Feel free to build these materials into your curriculum and share the following materials with your students:

4/9/2020 Aquaponics 101 at Home Instructor: Stef Funk, Program Coordinator

This workshop provides an introduction to aquaponic growing (cultivating plants indoors using fish waste as fertilizer). Delve deeper into the science behind aquaponics with an in depth look at the nitrogen cycle. Tour Stef’s small scale system in her apartment, and learn about her planning process and maintenance routine.

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4/16/2020 Composting with Worms Instructor: Kassie Hinrichsen, Education Manager

Interested in composting with worms? Education Manager Kassie will explain more about this fun way to reduce food waste at home while creating nutrient rich compost. This online workshop will cover how to get worms, what materials you’ll need to build their habitat, what to feed them, how to use their fertilizer, and general worm tips.

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4/23/2020 Waste Audits 101: Find the Hidden Treasures in Your Trash Instructor: Liz Lyon, Small Business and Circular Economy Manager

This workshop will provide an introduction to waste audits, the perfect quarantine activity! Since you’ve been cooped up at home for a while, now is the perfect time to dig through your trash and see what you can learn. Liz will walk you through how to sort, analyze, and maybe even reduce your waste.

*Attendees are encouraged to refrain from taking out their trash (and recycling or compost if you have it) for at least 5 days before this session to get the full hands-on experience of sorting through their waste.

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4/30/2020 Aquaponics Part 2: Water Chemistry Instructor: Stef Funk, Program Coordinator

Recommended for grades 6-12

Join Stef for the second installment of her aquaponic workshop series. Learn more about this innovative way of growing food, which combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water). Tour Stef’s system in her apartment and join her as she explains the science behind aquaponics, including an in depth look at the nitrogen cycle. She’ll be testing her fishy water for various parameters such as ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and pH.

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5/7/2020 Pollinator Power! Instructor: Kassie Hinrichsen, Education Manager Recommended for grades K-6

Learn about the differences between native and non-native bees, the importance of pollinators for the environment and our food system, and what you can do to support these amazing creatures. Kassie covers how to make seed balls with native seeds, and how to make your own native bee habitat for your home or garden.

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5/21/2020 Life Cycle of a Salad Instructor: Kassie Hinrichsen, Education Manager Track the various cycles of a salad with Education Manager Kassie, from harvest to food scraps. She’ll cover how plants, humans, and worms receive nutrients, exploring what they need to be healthy. Join Kassie as she explains the loops, makes a salad, and feeds the scraps to her worms.

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5/28/2020 Trash Talk: Landfills and Decomposition Instructor: Stef Funk, Program Coordinator

Discover the world of decomposition with Program Coordinator Stef Funk! Learn about the journey our trash takes from the garbage bin to the landfill — and the energy it takes to get it there. Stef will test your students’ knowledge on decomposers and decomposition rates, mapping out what types of waste products break down faster and slower than others. She’ll also cover methods to reduce, reuse, and recycle common items found in the trash.

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6/4/2020 Microscope Adventures Instructor: Stef Funk, Program Coordinator

Go on a never seen before Virtual Closed Loop Lab with Program Coordinator Stef Funk! Explore the little things in life with Plant Chicago’s teaching microscope. We’ll hook the camera up to our Zoom call to explore various creatures, plants, pollen, and more!

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