Teacher Area

Lesson Plan 4: System Design

Based on the collaboratively-generated Systems Requirements document and the sub-system your school has selected to help with, individual schools will begin to develop preliminary designs for their designated subsystem. Students will communicate their preliminary designs among their school peers. Each group will critique each others design giving productive feedback and advice. A solution will be chosen that will be presented to the other schools.


Students will be able to:
  1. Brainstorm and develop preliminary designs for a subsystem of the aquaponics system so that they meet or exceed requirements as outlined in the Systems Requirements document.
Materials and Resources


New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

  • Standard 5.4: Nature and Process of Technology
  • Standard 5.5: Characteristics of Life
  • Standard 5.10: Environmental Studies
  • Standard 8.2: Technological Literacy

ITEA Standards for Technological Literacy

  • Standards: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17

National Science Content Standards

  • Unifying Concepts and Processes in Science
  • Physical Science
  • Life Science
  • Science and Technology
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
  1. Brainstorm designs for specific subsystem of aquaponics system.
    • Students work on brainstorming various solutions for their sub-system. This can be accomplished by breaking them up into teams within the class. Teams then present their ideas to each other for comment. Each group will base their preliminary ideas on previous research and the Systems Requirements document.

  2. Students prepare preliminary designs for their specific sub-system.
    • Mechanical System: Flow rate Calculations
      • Students identify the capacities and requirements of hydroponics systems
      • Based on requirements students identify appropriate pumps, tubing and reservoir based on flow rates required by the system.

    • Plant and Fish Identification;
      • Students identify information about plants and animals by searching for appropriate websites with relevant information. Students should be encouraged to share particularly good reference sites with all project participants. This will help students identify and describe how certain fish work well with certain plants and how external environment factors affect the biological harvest.
      • Sources would describe the three primary fish used in aquaponics farming, tilapia, trout, and catfish. Included would be their requirements, habitat, as well as output (waste)
      • Sources would also describe various plants that grow well in hydroponic environments such as lettuces, collard greens, tomatoes, and peppers. Information would be provided about favorable "soil" conditions, water requirements, harvest yields and durations
    • Identification of appropriate materials and production techniques
      • Students identify readily available materials that would also be available in other parts of the world.
      • Research properties of materials and how the local environment might affect them, (i.e. PVC breaks down in sun light).

  3. Creation of Preliminary Topic Solution - 3 days
    • Each group develops a static model/prototype of their area/topic. The models are then presented to the class. At this point the most appropriate solution as selected. The criteria for this selection can be based on the Systems Requirements document.
    • The class should post their subsystem design to Collaboration Central for review by other classes.
    • Students review other subsystem designs submitted by partner schools and provide comments.


Students should complete and submit Daily Log forms. Students identify what they have done for the day. They note materials, tools, and resources used. Special attention is paid to any problems that the students had, and how other components might affect their component.