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The Wartburg College Ioponics lab is available for multiple educational opportunities.

An aquaponics program developed by Wartburg College Professor Michael Bechtel is now available to all Iowa educators, thanks to the Iowa governor’s STEM Advisory Council’s STEM Scale-Up Program.

The program, called Ioponics, combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) to create a controlled micro-ecosystem for year-round, hands-on learning. The state award will pay for the physical materials and continued technical support for the aquaponics system, which comes with cross-curricular lesson plans for PK-12 students that align with Iowa Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

The state award also will support the Ioponics program in other areas where kids of all ages gather to learn and grow, including after-school programs, youth groups, libraries and other educational programs. To apply for the Ioponics program, visit

Bechtel also is hosting a free online workshop Feb. 19, so interested individuals can learn more about the program. Additional information and webinar registration is available at

The application period for the STEM Scale-Up Program closes March 5. Classrooms and other programs selected to receive the Ioponics program will be announced in April.

“Working with Wartburg students, I have built this program up over the last few years, and I am excited to finally have the opportunity to get this in the hands of more Iowa students and educators,” Bechtel said. “I’ve already worked with several school districts in Iowa and hearing back from them about the work their students are doing with our Ioponics program affirms that we are doing something that positively impacts the classroom experience and student interest and engagement in STEM fields.”

The STEM Scale-Up Program provides STEM educational opportunities to approximately one-fifth of Iowa students each year, bringing some of the nation’s best STEM lessons, labs, kits and software to pre-K-12 students. Students who participate in the STEM Scale-Up Program have a proven success rate of performing better on the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress, as well as more positive attitudes about STEM study and careers, compared to students who did not receive STEM Scale-Up Programming.

“We cast a net across the country for top STEM programs and this year reeled in over 100 proposals – the most ever,” said Jeff Weld, executive director of the governor’s STEM Advisory Council. “The Council’s intent in designing this program eight years ago was to assure that every young Iowan finish second to no one when it comes to STEM education, and with the 12 selected Scale-Up programs … we fulfill their intent.”

Visit for more information on the 2021-22 STEM Scale-Up Programs.

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