Aquaponics, Aquaponics NYC, Captain Planet, Education, Fund for Teachers, Math for America, Uncategorized

The Ella Baker School at TEDx!!!

Better believe I’m bringing the class on stage with me to speak. We’ll then have a Socratic Circle discussion with the audience at lunch. Wheeeeeeeeeee! 2016-02-02 at 21.02.44.png



The Socratic Circle

For the past three years, my math/science class has been using The Socratic Circle as a means to create an atmosphere where the discussion is focused among  the students, allowing them to develop their own ideas as well as challenge others. We have used it specifically during our aquaponics unit throughout the year and most recently, where we discuss whether or not to eat the live fish in our system…It has led to some heated debates and allowed the students to really guide the classwork and unit. You will see some of our Socratic Circles on our YouTube channel (below) and  in the Wall Street Journal, FOX and CBS coverage in pasts posts of our blog
3) I have personalized the Socratic Circle and will be giving a workshop on it at Math for America in the Fall.
Here is the blurb…
The Socratic Circle 

Early adolescence is the time when children start to develop more meaningful relationships with their peers, rather than their parents/guardians. They develop these relationships usually through conversation (and probably Facebook but let’s ignore that for now). Teachers can capitalize on this need that students have to connect, by directing their conversation to academic inquiry. The Socratic Circle is a means to allow students to develop thoughtful conversation of an academic idea as well as create meaningful relationships with each other.  It is a format where a scholarly discussion of an essential question takes place in which student opinions are shared, proven, refuted, and refined through dialogue with other students. 
Aquaponics, Captain Planet, Education, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

The Luncheon

We came, we saw, we ate.

…deal with it.

…deal with it.

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

This is a poem written by a Aidan in a grade 4/5 classroom.


Here is the transcription…

The Class FIsh

Why do I

Still exist here while

people laugh at

me as I try

to find my oldest

son and eat him

while swimming in a

wasteland of

gravel plastic coral

and a little light house

whose purpose is unknown

while looking in

grimy tubes for

my long lost memory

but people bang on

the glass cage

of unremitting captivity

as I live my accursed

life as a pet fish.


Some of the kids expressed this view…


Aquaponics, Education, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

Trout Your Feelings

(Une partie de ce article va être en français pour M. Petit se lire)

I had searched and searched the heart of France to find the Obi-Wan Kenobe of fish farmers. Even though I am strong with the Force, I had still gotten lost on the farm roads of France for hours on end…but I suppose that is what every Jedi Padawan must go through. When I had found Monsieur Petit, he had his R2 unit and C3P0 in tow (although they were much more cuddly and extremely dangerous). Let’s call them Power and Aaron.


These are the trouts you’re looking for


A Jedi uses the rainbow trout for knowledge and defense, never for attack…

M. Petit explained every step of his system and the life of a trout in such great detail that I found myself seeing the world through their eyes… their slimy mucousy eyes. In one of his many basins, we studied how they behave depending on their size with respect to others. The strongest ones swam toward where the water flowed in and had the most dissolved oxygen, getting stronger with every absorption. The more feeble ones, more guarded, stayed at the other end for fear of being eaten or bullied and hence, did not grow as quickly.

Through mental telepathy as well as using words to speak, he said that nothing is a better receiver of information than the eye. Oh, he does have elaborate computer systems that monitor the pH levels, dissolved oxygen and other parameters, but he doesn’t trust them as much.  “Il n’y a pas mieux que de voir de ses propres yeux comment un project fonctionne”

On peut comprendre la technologie et les conceptes en les lisant dans des livres ou magazines, mais on ne comprendrerait pas l’effet de l’environement et de la nature sur les résultats. (Thanks, Dad, for thé translation, I know, I know… “the”) 

“You know, that little trout is going to cause me a lot of trouble.” “…Oh, he excels at that, sir.”


“Keep your distance, but don’t, y’know, look like you’re keeping your distance.” (Grumbled questioning bark.) “…I don’t know. Fly casual.


Laugh it up fuzzball…


“Aren’t you a little short for a storm trouter?”


The Force is strong with this one


Aquaponics, Education, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

Robert Plant Only Eats Organic Trout Pâté

After harvesting the veggies and rainbow trout, we helped Antonio and Amanda from the Bioaqua Farm set up their stall at the Wildflowers, George Ezra and Robert Plant concert. After the first song, Robert was like “Hey Michael Paoli, you are a good and nice boy, give me another freshly battered rainbow trout sandwich, fried… with some of that D’yer Mak’er mayo garlic sauce.” He ate seven of the garlic pita bread sandwiches and we stuffed extra kale in there because most of it got caught in his goatee. Bobby didn’t bother finishing the concert because he knocked over all the other food stands and claimed “None of this stuff is made from an aquaponic system, so don’t waste your money on it England”. We managed to get him back on stage for an encore but he changed all the lyrics in The Song Remains the Same to “Deep water cultures are a brilliant way for robert plant roots to absorb nitrates in the final stage of the nitrogen cycle”. We also almost got beaten up by a fairly intoxicated man that claimed we drank his apple cider (entirely true).


Poppin’ a Tent

…deal with it.

…deal with it.


Antonio Filleting 200 Trout Like a Surgeon.


The Crew


That’s actually Robert eating another trout cheddar roll.




Aquaponics, Education


“It’s very important to teach the children about these systems. They will need these lessons even more as their future depends on it…”

– Jonathan So, a.k.a The Aquaponicist

Today I really sunk my teeth into nitrifying bacteria and sponge media at The Aquaponicist storefront location in north London. John So guided me around his enterprise of various crayfish, tilapia tanks and grow beds, as well as the sunroom he is building in the converted car park area in the back. What is he selling at his storefront location you ask? Education… nay, inspiration. He walked me through different designs and plumbing possibilities, and he especially piqued my curiosity when he introduced me to the idea of “micro greens”. You see micro greens are vegetation that “we doctors call very very small. So small that it could not have possibly made off with a whole leg.”* The idea is that these micro greens contain the total amount of nutrients they will have within the first sprout of its lifetime. That means they can be harvested quickly in order to create a high turnover all the while reaping their full nutritional benefits (and of course selling them to the highest bidder at the ever famous Micro Green Auction House in Monte Carlo across the Tanzanian Sea… (I made up that auction house thing)).

Kids delivering crayfish they caught in the canal?!?

Kids delivering crayfish they caught in the canal?!?

Covering the tilapia tanks so the babies stop jumping out.

Covering the tilapia tanks so the babies stop jumping out.

Out fronticist

Out fronticist

*If you understand the “made off with a leg” reference, let me know and you shall be invited to the aquaponics BBQ at our school in April.