Sweetwater AQUAPONS

Revision Notes

Edited/Reviewed By: Jesse Blom on: _ Revision Notes:

Edited/Reviewed By: Emmanuel Pratt on: _ Revision Notes:

Edited/Reviewed By: Georgia Bullen on:_4/4/2013_Revision Notes:

Edited/Reviewed By: Matt Richardson on: _ Revision Notes:

Edited/Reviewed By: Thom Hines on: _ Revision Notes:

Edited/Reviewed By: Jill Frey on: _ Revision Notes:

Edited/Reviewed By: Chris Piuggi on: _ Revision Notes:

Edited/Reviewed By: Freesia McKee on: _ Revision Notes:


"Sweet Water Foundation aims to expand and deepen the impact of aquaponics and urban agriculture as a learning method by creating a replicable model for urban agriculture education. An enhanced curriculum and digital learning platform will support the requirements of Common Core Learning, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), IMS Interoperability Standards, and Open Standards. This model will meet the growing needs of lifelong learners to help improve their professional, academic and personal endeavors. Ultimately, this system to encourage learning that will help current and future generations address the growing concerns/implications of food sourcing and healthy food availability around the world."

For more information, see Stage 1 Application(external link) and Stage 2 Application(external link).

Evolution of Credentialing Practices

Practice: Collaboration with Formal Learning Institutions

Intended practice: “AQUAPONS will build upon SWF’s development of a comprehensive set of “Kindergarten to Career” STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning opportunities in partnership with K-12 educators and post-secondary learning institutions.”
    • 'Hopeful collaboration with accredited institutions and agencies.''__
Enacted practice: Collaborations already exist; Aquapons has great relationships with schools and educators. With the inclusion of badges, more students, schools, and educators are excited about the new opportunities beyond the organization. Also gives school administrators a concrete piece of evidence that the curriculum is doing something. Communicate impact of the curriculum and legitimize these activities.

Practice: Badges for Students and Educators

Intended practice: “The target audience for the AQUAPONS program are K-12 teachers and students, who are learning aquaponics as an integrated aspect of their school’s curriculum.”
    • Credential may be earned by educators or students.
Enacted practice: Same badges are issued to educators and students. SweetWater will be issuing badges as of now, but once educators within the community achieve some level of SweetWater badges then they would be allowed to issue badges for their students. Learners (both students and educators) apply for a badge, they are not "automatically" awarded.

Practice: External Value of Credential

Intended practice: “Many of the learning areas in aquaponics are directly ​PORTABLE ​to other academic disciplines or career paths. For example, a badge in Water could be translated to municipal water management, or a badge in plants could be translated to a career in horticulture and landscaping.”
    • Presumably, credential is valued in post-secondary and professional entities.
Enacted practice: Six universities in Chicago and Milwalkee are onboard with the badges. (The director is part of Chicago State University). Top chefs in Chicago are interested in badge earners for their kitchens. New programs: Food Science program Institute of Urban agriculture and nutrition that would allow earner to feed into. These new programs are the result of demands by market and employers. SWF has also identified many other professions in which knowledge of aquaponics is needed. Badges act as a flag to prospective employers. Working with local employers on what they would like to see in a badge in order to "improve the talent pipeline."

Practice: Badges are Leveled

Intended practice: Four levels of badges in four content areas:
  • Level 1: Advanced Beginner Badge
  • Level 2: Competent Performer Badge
  • Level 3: Proficient Performer Badge Level
  • Level 4: Expert
    • Different levels of the credential can be earned to recognize varying levels of expertise.
Enacted practice: All levels of the areas are pushed out to the OBI also there is an aggregate badge (level 1, 2, 3, 4 in all four areas) that will be pushed out as well. The aggregate badges are automatic.
Smaller indicators, "activity badges", will be awarded along the way to an aquaponics badge. (level 1 badge takes about 6 months)

"Our system encourages the learner to earn Aquapons badges at 4 different proficiency levels: Junior Apprentice, Senior Apprentice, Journeymon, and Master. These badges indicate the learner is proficient in all areas of aquaponics, and has demonstrated a holistic, systems thinking approach to learning." - HASTAC Q&A

Practice: (Self-Assessment) Recognize diverse learning

Enacted practice: Badge will recognize learning beyond the explicit knowledge and skills, every badge requires a certain level of self-assessment.
    • Each badge recognizes a combination of knowledge, skills, and ability to self-assess.

Evolution of Assessment Practices

Sweetwater AQUAPONS has decided to scale back their initial intentions and "simplify a really complex system" so that "someone can jump right into the learning process. Through building a portfolio enhanced by technological tools such as video, photography, and blogs, students engage in a self-reflective process where they touch on all aspects of learning - from changes in behavior and building confidence to grappling with specific aspects of the four content areas. The project wants to encourage peer assessment and self asessment, and is working toward embedding those practices in the process of earning a badge. Peer assessment and collaboration will "enhance the interactions between different learners and learning institutions," and transform the learners' consciousness of who is learning the same things at the same time and how people are learning" these skills.

Practice: Activities Exemplify Specific Outcomes and Criteria

Intended practice: Content areas have specific outcomes defined and activities which exemplify a particular those outcomes.
    • Badges are earned by reaching set criterion or participation.
Enacted practice: The project has decided to simplfy the badging and earning process. While activities are not aligned to standards, the project is working on standardization.

Practice: Leveled Badges

Intended practice: "Furthermore, there will be four different levels of each badge:
  • Level 1: Advanced Beginner Badge
  • Level 2: Competent Performer Badge
  • Level 3: Proficient Performer Badge
  • Level 4: Expert
    • Badges are leveled as participation and performances increase.
Enacted practice:

Practice: Performance-Based, Peer, and Self Assessments

Intended practice: “The badges for each curricular area will be earned through written assessments, photo and video projects, and in-person demonstrations of proficiency.”
    • Formal scoring of performance based assessments.
Enacted practice: Peer and self assessment are highly valued, and will transform the learning process. While the process of peer and self assessments are being developed, some form of peer assessment will be required to earn a badge. Self reflections, data logs, and physical evidence will also be part of the overall assessment and badging process.

The Sweetwater team is putting together internal portfolios to experience what it really takes to earn a badge and to learn how best to incorporate peer and self assessment.

Practice: E-Porfolios

Enacted practice: Most of earners' work occurs in face-to-face interactions but evidence of their work and experiences will be accumulated in an e-portfolio containing written reflections, reflective video explanations, physical evidence of activities, photography, tumblr blogs, sketch up designs and data logs.

Evolution of Motivational Practices

Narrative Abstract

Sweet Water AQUAPONS seeks to bring students into the world of urban agriculture, offering them many skills and experience that could potentially translate to a career. They serve students of all varieties, engaged and disengaged, and encourage them to participate in collaborative activities. Another facet of the program is that, as part of the badge-earning process, they encourage students to participate in self-reflection. This, they have found, encourages students in engage more deeply in the learning process.

Practice: Professional Development

Intended practice: “SWF will provide exemplary submissions for each badge level, viewable on its public web site, so that prospective AQUAPONS as well as the general public will TRANSPARENTLY see the requirements necessary to achieve a badge. SWF will work with its strong network of educational and business partners to ensure that AQUAPONS badges align with the diverse needs of these partner institutions. The newly formed Aquaponics Association will provide a key ENDORSEMENT of AQUAPONS badges, along with other supportive institutional partners. Many of the learning areas in aquaponics are directly ​PORTABLE ​to other academic disciplines or career paths. For example, a badge in Water could be translated to municipal water management, or a badge in Plants could be translated to a career in horticulture and landscaping.”
    • Badges will motivate earners by providing evidence of participation in professional development activities, providing utility value for the activities.

Enacted practice:~~#F00:Please let us know below if you did what you intended, and if not, why? And if so, please share details about what you did and how it is going.

Practice: Sharing Knowledge

Enacted practice:"A high school Chemistry teacher... can demonstrate cause-effect relationships to her students through visual tools, and share her results on SWF's social collaboration learning platform. Video footage of the teacher explaining her system, along with photographs of the system and a written summary of her successes are uploaded to her profile on the SWF web platform."
    • Badge system encourages learners to share information with the community, giving them a sense of contribution.

Practice: Self-Reflection

Enacted practice: "I worked with a group of students from the Milwaukee schools. One of them rarely said a word; I saw this student four hours a week for twelve weeks and probably hear him say about twelve words in that span of time. On the last day, we were doing video reflections. During the video reflection, as soon as this guy was on camera and we were asking him to reflect on his learning, he was probably the most eloquent of all the students. That's learning that he had internalized, but had not come out in the general course of things. When asked to reflect, his learning was not only exposed to others, but also realized to himself."
    • Badges will encourage students to engage in self-reflection, encouraging them to think about their thinking processes and engage more deeply in the material (metacognition).**

Evolution of Research and Evaluation Practices

Practice: Using Research and Evaluation to Reflect on Practices

Enacted Practice: Badges are a valuable way of communicating the learning ecosystem to teachers and administrators. While research had not been started at the time of the interview, Thom is looking at research and evaluation of the badging system.