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Innovation rewarded at ISZL
Joanna Cull
Aquaponics system

A Grade 10 student is celebrating after the Aquaponics system he worked on was awarded a Student Innovators Grant, worth 10,000 US dollars.

Matteo M became involved in the Aquaponics system at the High School, which allows plants and fish to thrive together. The fish waste feeds the plants, and the plants clean the water. 

After doing his Grade 8 challenge project on Aquaponics, Matteo - a keen gardener and aquarium keeper in his free time - turned his hand to helping finish the High School Aquaponics system. Along with his friend Karim M, he helped finish off the plumbing to get the system up and running. 

The school’s system is a model for a larger project that ISZL is helping to construct in Kokrobite, Ghana. That system should produce around 20 tonnes of fish and 50 tonnes of vegetables annually, and would provide food, work and education for the local community. 

Looking at how the project could be improved, one sticking point was the money needed. Then Maria LeGuen, the IB Middle Years Coordinator, told Matteo about the MYP Student Innovators Grant.

The Grant organisers replied, asking for detailed information, and despite the fact he was at home during the Covid lockdown, Matteo submitted a 1250 word application in April 2020. 

After learning he was through to the semi-finals, Matteo produced a three minute presentation to further explain his project. This led to the maximum award possible by the awarding body. 

Matteo plans to use the grant money to convert the Aquaponics system to majority-solar energy, and a school store to raise money for a charity associated with the project. 

The Middle Years Programme Coordinator, Maria LeGuen, said: "With a maximum of 30 students chosen from all around the world, I knew competition would be tough, so I was extremely proud when we heard that Matteo had been chosen. Matteo has worked very hard throughout the application process. He demonstrated initiative and perseverance, gained new skills and understanding, and shared his passion for Aquaponics and for creating positive change in his own and global communities". 

Matteo says: “A big thank you to all who supported me throughout this process: my parents, Maria LeGuen, Christopher Koch and most of all my former colleague Karim M”.

  • Aquaponics
  • FFE
  • Fund for Excellence

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