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

TEDx Talk

We were invited to speak at the TEDx Navesink Conference on April 9th, 2016. To rent a bus to the event, the students raised huge amounts of cash from a bake-sale that put Starbucks and Au Bon Pain out of business.

Afterwards at lunch, we had a discussion with some of the attendees. Some things that I found interesting….

Our kids were bright and charming…however, I felt that the kids that were all too eager to euthanize the fish were the most prominent and were rewarded with laughter because of their ‘witty’ responses. It seemed that the students that were more sensitive to the welfare of the fish would have the unpopular ‘un-fun’ view.  Do you know what I mean? There was some posturing with the idea that ‘to kill was cool’.

Also, one of the students mentioned that animals are on this earth for us to eat, that was their purpose. He said, we are doing animals and the planet a favor by eating them, otherwise, they would overpopulate the planet, especially the cows as they have an added ‘bonus’ of creating a huge amounts of methane. I am slightly perplexed about this as we learned last year that the large number of cows and methane on the planet is because humans have caused them to reproduce at an unnatural rate.

When we get back to class, I’ll have them do some writing then have a discussion to get a better idea of what everyone thinks and make sure all voices are heard.

Also, here is my dad…the Sphinx

Here is the TEDx writeup!



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


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, Captain Planet, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

The Final Decision…for now…

Click HERE for the Wall Street Journal update!!!

…deal with it.

…deal with it.

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

1.      How did you guys decide Pablo’s fate? Was there a formal vote? 

I (Michael) wanted a good compromise as the vote was fairly split. I didn’t want there to be a ‘victor’. A good compromise is when both parties are dissatisfied. We decided to spare Pablo’s life but not make a decision on our own tilapia till next year. I can tell you though, there is a group of fairly passionate kids clamoring for fried Pablo. There is also a growing group now that wants to jailbreak and spring all the fish in chinatown markets to bring them to optimal health and re-home them around the greater New York area.  (cue Mission Impossible music)

2.      What has the range of reactions been from the kids?

The kids who want to harvest and eat Pablo are making the most noise. It is getting little weird actually. We’ve already euthanized four 14″ tilapia (see video).

3.      What will you be eating on Wednesday instead? (as specific as possible)

The other thing that brought us over the top was that if we don’t buy supermarket tilapia and don’t kill Pablo, PETA would fully cater the entire lunch for 60 people with fishless fillets, cheese, tartar sauce and fixins. The kids went after PETA about where these fishless delicacies came from.

Did they come from a factory that destroyed a habitat? What are the actual ingredients of these fake fillets? What about all the packaging waste they came in? How many trees? etc…

Most of the kids are upset about this (again a good compromise) but we don’t have to shell out a bunch of cash. We can still use all of our awesome vegetation from the AQUAPONICS system and PETA are delivering their stuff. Also, we still have our own tilapia for next year.
Also, there is a joke that I go by when someone wants to give something for free. The joke is about a kid in a school being asked ‘who is the most important person?’ And the punchline is ‘business is business’. (look it up).
Luncheon scheduled for Wednesday June 24th
**We also made it to Seth Myers monologue last night, but then it was cut sad face.
Other Media…
IJR Review
Aquaponics, Captain Planet, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

The PETA Discussion and CBS Evening News

At school, the focus the entire year has been the edible ecosystem, and relationship of the vegetables and the fish, yet lately, perhaps sadly, the focus was on to eat or not to eat Pablo.

Check out this video to see the kids in action and the sweet system!!!


We recently took a poll on whether to harvest and eat Pablo, or donate him to OKO Farms in Bed-Stuy. Personally, I don’t feel that one side should have a “victory” over the other. I’d like them to find some sort of compromise where the kids from both sides are utterly dissatisfied…a true and noblePETA aspiration of a pure compromise.  After PETA sent us their letter offering us vegan fish fillets (see blog post 6/15/2015 ), we invited them into our class via Skype and included them in the conversation.



Here is our school on CBS June 21 – CBS News Piece CLICK HERE

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

…deal with it.

…deal with it.

Aquaponics, Captain Planet, Fund for Teachers, Math for America

Wall Street Journal Story!

The WSJ has been visiting our school and covering the aquaponics project. Thanks so much to Sophia Hollander and Jennifer Weiss!

Click to see the video and article!


Did you click the link above these words?

Where it says “WSJ STORY”? That’s where Sophia’s awesome article is.

1) Also, New York One picked it up!!!

It’s at 2:25 of this clip

2) New York Magazine (Not sure why they are so snarky towards a 12 year old)

NYMag failed to mention that the girl wants to study it for scientific purposes because she wants to be a doctor.

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

Thanks to Captain Planet for the Eco Tech Grant!

…deal with it.


– NBC New York

– New York Sun Times

– AOL–fish-518862783


– Yahoo!

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