Maker Faire 09: ISKME Teaches Kids to Design Sustainability Solutions

kids sustainability project

Photos by Jaymi Heimbuch

The very first thing that caught my eye at Maker Faire was a wall of plants, hooked up to solar panels and a wind turbine, that pumped water into a fish pond. I had to stop and ask, and turns out, it's a project that hopes to spark the imaginations of middle and high school kids for creating a world of sustainable food production. Click through to check out the Sun Curve.

kids and wall of hydro plants photo

ISKME stands for The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education. In other words, it's an organization that helps teachers teach, and here at Maker Faire, they are hoping to get teachers involved in educating on sustainability.

This particular project is called the Sun Curve Design Challenge, and it asks kids:

If you had to grow your food using efficient and sustainable processes, where would it take you? What science and technology would support your ideas? What design principles would guide your solutions?

Their example is this device - a self-contained system of hydroponic agriculture, aquaculture, and solar energy. The sun powers pumps that draw water up from the pond, uses it to feed the plants, which clean the water and return it to the pond. The design was a runner-up for the 2008 Metropolis Next Generation Design Prize.

This fall, students are taking part in the challenge and will be designing solutions, then submitting them this winter to ISKME. We're eager to see what they come up with!

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