The Out-of-Door Academy is pleased to announce it has received a $7,250 STEM grant from the Toshiba America Foundation (TAF). These funds will support the ODA Aquaculture Project, in which students are designing sustainable oyster reefs to improve water quality in the Gulf of Mexico.
ODA engineering students tackled a design challenge to develop a practical, economical, and sustainable solution to combat water pollution and red tide in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. After researching the issue and speaking with experts, the students learned that oysters naturally filter water of pollutants and microalgae. ODA’s engineering and science classes will collaborate to construct reefs for the oysters that are biodegradable and beneficial to marine environments. Students plan to set up saltwater reef tanks that mimic the Gulf conditions, and will monitor water conditions, care for the oysters, and test reef prototypes on campus before transporting them to shorelines for long-term study. Over time, the oyster colony will naturally reseed itself and become self-sustaining, filtering thousands of gallons of water per day.
“The funding from the Toshiba Grant will provide exciting and meaningful learning opportunities for ODA students,” said Head of School David Mahler. “Given the recent impact of red tide on our region, this student-driven research project could not be more important or timely.”
Toshiba America Foundation’s grants fund projects designed by individual classroom teachers. This “direct-to-teacher” approach brings immediate results. Teachers are able to change the way they teach Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects because the grant supports equipment for hands-on experiments and inquiry-based approaches to the curriculum. TAF grants provide teachers with the tools they need to be more effective educators and make the classroom a more exciting place to learn.