STEM Shuttle lands at Nelson and Pade, Inc.®

On May 17, Nelson and Pade, Inc.®, The Most Trusted Name in Aquaponics®, hosted 5th grade students from Westfield and Forest Lane Elementary Schools for a fun-filled day of hands-on learning that involved activities in the Dream Flight USA STEM Shuttle and tours of Nelson and Pade, Inc.®’s aquaponic greenhouse facility.

Students and teachers arrived from Westfield promptly at 9:30am to kick off the educational event.  Rebecca Nelson, co-founder of Nelson and Pade, Inc.®, welcomed the group, explaining what aquaponics is and why hands-on learning is fun and effective.  The Westfield students were then split into two groups, with one entering the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) shuttle; the other venturing into the greenhouse to learn all about aquaponic food production. Nelson and Pade, Inc. ® Event Planner, Jannel Dunn, and tour guides, Troy Curtin and Tim Dobbins, kept the students on task and the day flowing smoothly.

In the STEM shuttle, students delved into learning activities such as building a space station, identifying constellations, understanding solar power, gravity and planetary rotation and robotics. There were even sessions on launching rockets to Mars and designing an alien!

Students on the greenhouse tour learned about the combination of raising fish and vegetables, year ‘round, in a natural and sustainable system. The tour was fun and interactive and incorporated learning about science, math, agriculture and much more. Nelson and Pade, Inc.® provided each student with an Aquaponics Workbook to follow along and then take home. After the first hour, the groups transitioned, so all students participated in both the STEM shuttle activities and the greenhouse tour.

As the Westfield students wrapped up their activities, the Forest Lane students arrived just in time for lunch. Nelson and Pade, Inc.® provided a lunch for all that featured hotdogs with the works, chips, cookies and aquaponically-grown salad. The students, after just learning how the lettuce was grown and that it is fresh, nutritious and tasty, eagerly requested salad along with their hot dogs.

After lunch, the Westfield students departed and the Forest Lane students embarked on their STEM shuttle and aquaponics learning adventures.

Rebecca Nelson shares, “Seeing the high level of enthusiasm for learning and the excitement demonstrated by the students, Nelson and Pade, Inc.®, along with Dream Flight USA, hope to make this an annual event for area 5th grade students. It is this type of outside-the-box learning that can inspire students to embrace new concepts, excel in school and seek innovative career paths.”

The Dream Flight USA Foundation was created by Sharon Ryan, a 5th grade teacher at John Marshall Elementary School in the Wausau, WI School District. The STEM Shuttle program began in June 2006.  The shuttle itself is a 45-foot-long, 44,000 pound converted tour bus which is housed in a hanger in Mosinee, WI when not on the road. The STEM Shuttle is operated by The Dream Flight USA Foundation, a 501(c)(3), exclusively for educational purposes. For more information on the STEM Shuttle, visit:

Nelson and Pade, Inc.® is a Montello-based company that has a global reach, offering complete aquaponic systems, comprehensive training and long term grower support. To date, individuals from nearly 90 countries and all 50 US states have travelled to Montello to attend the Nelson and Pade, Inc.® Aquaponics Master Class®.  Nelson and Pade, Inc.® also has a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.  For more information on aquaponics and Nelson and Pade, Inc., visit


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