Class is a chance for growing

Posted: April 23, 2006

Lettuce is for more than just salad to the students in the Greenhouse Class at Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus.

Students are growing black-seeded Simpson lettuce in an exercise in hydroponics. The lettuce is nourished in a solution rather than in soil. Keith Dannucci, the agricultural science teacher who leads the class, said the students had already harvested one crop of lettuce. They took it home to their families, who ate it and pronounced it "delicious."

Another crop of lettuce will be harvested before the end of the school year, Dannucci said. The high school has a strong agricultural science and animal science program. Not only do students grow plants and flowers in the greenhouse, they tend to goats, chickens and rabbits.

Those real-life assignments allow the students to use many different skills, such as math skills to calculate the amount of grain to be fed to the goats. The science department at the high school plans to add a tank in which to raise and harvest tilapia next year, he said.

Dannucci said he added the lettuce-growing assignment because it gives the students a hands-on opportunity to apply concepts they discussed in class.

"They get to nurture a plant and watch what happens," he said.

In fact, the lettuce project has been so successful that the students are branching out into fruit. Next up: strawberries.

To view pictures of the progress of lettuce project at the high school, go to www.geocities.com/agkids/hydro1.html

Contact Kathryn Quigley at 856-779-38909 or sjinquirer@phillynews.com.

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