Buck Institute for Education

The Tower Garden Challenge

What will my students be doing?

Students design and conduct a scientific experiment to test claims that aeroponic growing methods can produce more food in ways that use less land and water compared to traditional soil-based growing methods.

What's Included:

  • Project Overview
  • Gold Standard PBL Essential Project Design Elements
  • Sequence of the Project
  • Step-by-Step Teaching Guide
  • Student Handouts
  • Teacher Materials

Current Version: January 10, 2018

Think of the food you ate today, in the last week, and over the last year. Where did it come from? Did you grow any of it yourself? What resources were needed to produce it? According to some estimates, it takes 1.76 acres of land to grow the fruits and vegetables needed to feed a family of four for one year, and closer to 2 acres if wheat and corn are included. Fruits and vegetables are part of a healthy diet; but is there a less land-intensive way to grow them?

Juice Plus+® thinks so. They make an aeroponic growing system called the Tower Garden®, which has been proven to use just a fraction of the land and water as traditional horizontal gardening, all while producing higher crop yields. In the Tower Garden Challenge, students design and conduct a scientific experiment that rigorously tests these claims by comparing the two growing methods. Using scientific methods of inquiry and data collection, they take specific and accurate measurements, manage variables, make detailed observations, maintain a lab journal, visually represent their findings, draw conclusions, and consider aeroponic gardening’s future implications and real-world applications. They will present their findings to a panel of people who play the roles of experts and stakeholders such as urban planners, farmers, restaurant owners, and environmental engineers.

Project Notes

  • Subjects: Math, Science
  • Grade Level: 6th, 7th
  • Time Required: 15-30 Hours

Sponsored By


The Tower Garden Challenge was inspired by Green Bronx Machine Founder & TEDx Speaker, Stephen Ritz. Stephen is a South Bronx teacher/administrator who believes that students shouldn't have to leave their community to live, learn and earn in a better one. Moving generations of students into spheres of personal and academic successes they have never imagined while reclaiming and rebuilding the Bronx, Stephen’s extended student and community family have grown over 30,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx while generating extraordinary academic performance.

Project Documents