2020 Aquaculture Challenge

Did you know that seafood is the most efficiently grown animal protein in the world? Did you know that over 50% of all seafood consumed in the world is grown in farms? Seafood from scallops to salmon to seaweed is, and will continue to be, one of the the most important food sources for feeding the world. Unfortunately the US is far behind in Seafood production. Wild fisheries are maxed out and aquaculture is severely underdeveloped. The US imports over 90% of all seafood creating a $13 billion dollar seafood deficit!

The Aquaculture Challenge is a high school competition designed to engage high school students in a multidisciplinary experiential learning experience with real world application. The program has students designing aquaponics systems and business plans to go with them as a way to address the US Seafood shortage. This program engages students in life science, computer programming, systems engineering and business development


Competition Components


  1. Registration opens October 25th, 2019. Registration remains open through January 8th, 2020, however it is recommended that teams start working by the first week of November.
  2. Open House on November 7th from 10:00 am-2:00 pm with an informational presentation from 1:00pm - 2:00pm. The presentation will be recorded for later viewing.

 We will host a one hour virtual workshop overviewing aquaculture in the world and US and the main components of the aquaculture challenge. Optional attendance for teams.

  1. November - April,  Design and Create your System!
  1. System: Design an aquaponics system including:
  1.  Living organisms (fish, snails, crayfish, etc.)
  2. A plant growth system that uses the waste nutrients from the living organisms
  3. Filtration systems that keep water quality at optimal levels
  1.  Automation and Monitoring: Program a monitoring system using the Arduino microcontrollers and environmental sensors. Also use water quality testing kits to monitor your system. Keep detailed records of your monitoring!
  2.  Business: Use the program Canvanizer to create a business plan. Create a short presentation  explaining your Business Model.
  1. November 20th-22nd  - Milestone 1 Check-in: Team introductions, initial system pitch.

  1. January 8th, 2020 - Team Registration deadline: Teams must register no later than this date using the online registration form. Teams can begin work at any point after initial registration.
  2. January 8th-10th individual video chats  - Milestone 2 Check-in: Team introduces arduino and business pitch.  
  3. February 26th-28th individual video chats - Milestone 3 Check in: Display current system and monitoring. Troubleshooting.
  4.  April 10th 11:59pm - Due date for submissions: Present your system, monitoring, and business plan by uploading videos and supporting documents to our online submission system by the end of the day on April 8th.
  5. April 16th, TBA - Awards Ceremony: The ceremony will be broadcast online, with the alternative opportunity of attending the awards ceremony in person and receiving a tour of a local aquaculture facility.


Trophies will be awarded for the top designs! 

For more information, coaches manual and detailed program overview, or to register for the open house,  please contact:

Elliot Nelson at elliotne@msu.edu or Dr. Barbara Evans bevans@lssu.edu 

Teams will be responsible for providing their own equipment with the exception of the automation and monitoring equipment. Scholarships are available for some basic aquaponics equipment.