It’s All Up to
the Plants!
by Annicka Sen ‘25
Hydroponic farms and primary schools. Not exactly two phrases you’d expect to see in the same sentence, right? In fact, when most hear there is a hydroponic farm located on the third floor of HKIS’s Upper Primary (UP) building, they are surprised. But if you think about inquiry, health and wellbeing, and learning in the real world, it makes total sense that HKIS would invest in this unique learning space for Upper Primary students.
We see shelves of green!
The Farm is a result of months of dedication and effort by the UP administration and led by UP instructional coach Hyun Hogan. Hogan was tasked to create a space that focuses on authentic connections to the real world and experiential learning. The Farm is the latest addition to specialized learning spaces at the UP, including the Kid Kitchen, the Media Lab, and the Innovation Wing. These spaces are made available to classroom teachers for extended learning opportunities with their students.
Over the past year, much of Hogan’s time has been centered around this project, and it’s changed the way she schedules her day. “My schedule isn’t mine anymore, it’s all up to the plants!” She laughs.
Earlier this year, she was growing tomatoes and strawberries for the first time in The Farm. Now, she’s in the process of training others to help The Farm grow.

Hogan describes the project as a delicate process that requires time and patience. There’s a lot of maintenance that goes into keeping a farm going. The more seeds we germinate, the more work we have. That includes spraying and checking on the nutrients, Electrical Connectivity (EC) levels, and temperature. You have to make sure the conditions are optimal.”
Teachers Dylan Robertson Laura Evans select seeds to start the germination process in the hydroponic farm.
It’s all worth it though. In the end, the team behind The Farm believes that the space can truly be beneficial for students, even outside of the curriculum. Students can use the produce from The Farm in the Kid Kitchen, a space that promotes hands-on cooking skills. Additionally, they can take on a variety of roles such as scientists and consumers of The Farm. Hogan even hopes to inspire students’ passions and possibly open up a field of interest for them. We [the team] have talked about how it’s a beautiful opportunity for inquiry, and not just for classroom learning. Sometimes there are kids who just show interest in growing their own food and understanding where it comes from.
This project has changed Hogan as well. “I’m someone who came into this with very little gardening experience but I walk away everyday from The Farm with this sense of gratitude for our [food] environment. And that’s what we want for our kids: this newfound appreciation for food and taking care not to waste it. If they know the process it goes through, from seed to harvest, they can be better stewards for the environment.”
Hyun Hogan has been instrumental in bringing the Upper Primary Farm to life.
Hogan knows that growing plants is a lot like helping to develop a child’s passion. Despite the time and labor it has taken, Hogan walks away each day from the hydroponics farm happy to be a part of something important.