October 1st, 2019

Welcome to my senior year at WISRD. The year as gotten off to a quick start. This year I am not only a member of the hydroponic team, but also the Treasurer of WISRD and Assistant Editor of the Inquirer. This has led to me having a fairly busy year. I have consistent responsibilities that need to be regularly tended to. As a result, as I am sure is obvious, my journal will be less frequently updating. Regardless, I still intend to update this journal regularly. So far this year, on the hydroponics team, I have been focusing more on the CAD aspect of the project. I have been working to design root basket to help grow plants. In order to do so, I have been learning blender as the program allows for more detailed design. Unfortuntately learning a complex program takes time and the design process has been slow. Additionally, the hydroponic team and I are working to begin to germinate and grow plants. At the moment, the team is working to decide what plant to grow that will work well in our system. This process is long and grueling as it is required that we find a plant that grows in the San Joaquin Valley, works in our lab, and has significant research data behind it. Leafy greens seem to be the most likely choice and a decision will most likely be made soon.

December 19, 2018

The group has finally found a valve system that works well and also assimilates perfectly into our entire system but more specifically the base. Though the system leaked from a few places, the sealant we will put on should eliminate those leaks. Now that we know our system works, I have begun looking into some mathematical theorems, such as Bernoulli’s equation, that will allow the group to know how much or how little to turn the valve to achieve that perfect flow rate that we desire. I believe this is crucial to the development of our system because it will tell us the answer rather than the group guessing and checking next to every possible option for the valve.

December 13, 2018

The previous week has been filled with test after test and adjustment after adjustment made to our PVC valve system. Though we still have not found that perfect solution, it is clear that we as a group are nearing it as our ideas seem to continuously improve. Today was a little different in terms of testing. Once Sadie and I arrived at the hydroponic lab and placed the grow tub atop the PVC base, it completely collapsed. This led Sadie and me to completely rebuild the base and once we were finished we realized that by rotating the base 90 degrees it made the base and the grow tube very compatible. This discovery allows for more stability within the system.

December 6, 2018

Now that the nozzles are completed and fit to both the rubber tubing and PVC pipe valve system, the group can begin put our theoretical designs into action and test them. Though this process sounds simple and quick it is very significant that the group finds the absolute best possible design as we did with the caps in order to make sure our system works to its fullest potential. The group has also decided to plant mung beans into our lab, but before we can we must do all the necessary research on the plant to make sure we fully understand it.

November 28, 2018

For the past week or so Nicolas has been designing a different nozzle that will connect our rubber tubing (the tubing that connects to the pump) to the PVC valve system we recently acquired. This is a vital step in the development of our valve system as we need it to begin designing and testing the valve system and until it is finished everything is hypothetical. In the meantime, I have been focused on the research of new plant possibilities, San Joaquim Valley conditions, and what will need to be done to maintain our lab and its plants once it’s running. All information needed to run our lab and make sure it is realistic.

November 19, 2018

In an attempt to germinate the basil plant we had, the realization was forced upon us of how sensitive the basil plant truly is and how germination must be done while the plant is still a seed. Once we tried to germinate the basil, it became clear very quickly that it was going to die. Despite our best attempts to save it with nutrients and a light source, the plant died immediately and it is now clear to the group that we must choose a new plant to plant into our hydroponic system. Along with this significant discovery, after further research about ideal hydroponic conditions, it is clear the flow rate of our system is too quick to allow any plant to survive. We are currently constructing a valve system that will allow us to control the flow rate and return the excess water back to the reservoir.

November 12, 2018

As it appears that our lab is almost ready to begin, we must prepare our basil plant for the hydroponic system. We had purchased small basil plants a few weeks ago, but as time goes on the plants grew very quickly. This means the plants are much more developed than planned for and the results we could potentially get will contain a very narrow view instead of the full picture. We are currently separating the individual basil plants and preparing them for germination of sorts, regardless of the uncompleted data we will receive. The reason being we will still be able to test if our hydroponic system can sustain life.

November 6, 2018

Last night was poster night and the hydroponics team was able to present all of our creations and learnings so far. We presented everything from our caps that will go on the end of grow tubes to our hopes of planting our basil very soon. Although we do not have all the kinks worked out in our hydroponic system, we as a group believe a start is imminent.

October 31, 2018

After designing the stabilizer that would work, the hydroponics team met and realized the use of a 3D printed stabilizer was unnecessary. This delayed discovery comes from a lack of communication between the two hydroponics duos we have within the group. As the other duo was not aware of everything we were doing in our group, they came to a solution separate from ours. This solution was more practical and allows for the tubes to be moved easily if it is needed. The solution is to use two zip ties on each side of the tube that overlay one another, both going over the PVC pipe support, to create an x that does not allow the tubing to move. Now that the design of this stabilizer is no longer needed, my new goal is to test the basil in our newly made root baskets, circular cut out plastic mesh placed in a cone shape in the one-inch holes at the top of our tubes, as we have to reprint our caps. After printing caps to cover the end of our hydroponic tubes in order to connect the rubber tubes more effectively to the hydroponic tube, the top piece connecting to the nozzle was too weak. This portion of the cap is very significant as the nozzle is where the rubber tubes, transporting water, will connect. This portion will be subject to a lot of pressure and needs to be stable or else leaks will occur. This discovery was made as the caps would break under any sort of pressure and when they were placed on the hydroponic tubes, an act the requires force from the top of the cap (where the nozzle is), it broke instantly. Although unfortunate, this discovery is necessary to the well being of our lab as if had not been made it would have lead to future problems once the lab is running.

October 17, 2018

Recently I was tasked with the job of designing stabilizers to hold our tubes in place while the plants are growing. This has proven to be a rather difficult task as the only place to secure the tube is a PVC pipe perpendicular to the tubes. After coming up with a very preliminary design just to see if the measurement and shape of the stabilizer could secure the tube. Upon testing it on the tube it was quickly realized the shape did not fit and would require a redesign. For this second round of revision, I included a way to connect the stabilizer to the PVC pipe as well as retaking measurements and changing the shape from parabolic to circular. I decided to make a ring-shaped device that could screw on to the circular portion of the stabilizer. This would allow the two objects to be perpendicular, printed simultaneously, and still connect securely. After looking over the design a few times, I felt confident and decided to print it and then test it. Unfortunately, the screw portion on both parts of the design was not able to print and ended up destroying the entire print up. This means I must completely redesign my stabilizer as a way of figuring out how to securely connect the ring to the circular tube portion, while the two are perpendicular to one another.

September 26th, 2018

Over the past two weeks, the hydroponics teams have primarily focused on background information needed to successfully complete the experiment. We have done research on everything from the nutrients our basil plants need to the proportions of those nutrients to the ideal temperature for the plants to grow along with efficient ways for us to measure the conductivity of different solutions of salt using AC power. All of this knowledge and more is important for each member of the hydroponics team to know, as it will allow us to further develop ideas to create the best experiment we can. After understanding all of these ideas we have begun to revise our lab design and methods of delivery of nutrients, as well as incorporating oxygen into the water consistently.

September 12th, 2018

Today the hydroponics team was focused on learning all about conductivity in order to understand the testing we need to do in regards to salinity. Currently, we will be using AC power to see changes in salinity levels as they rise in fall in the experiment. Unfortunately, we have little to no knowledge in this field and require lots more learnings in order to even attempt to complete this. First, after we understand the topic, we are going to make some test solutions with salt to test that out philosophy even works.

September 11th, 2018

The past week has been dedicated to figuring out ways to measure different variables, as they change, throughout the experiment we are planning on doing. We have been working on a way to develop a way to measure salinity with AC power in different solutions of salt. These solutions will contain a different number of moles of salt in one liter of water. Since AC power sents electrons in cycles, one must use a magnetic field to measure the amps in order to determine salinity. To do this we must create a clamp to go around the wire to create a magnetic field. This is the first step in our experiment and must be completed as a preface to the experiment. The current delay is the lack of materials, but once we get these materials, we can start building the clamp.

August 30th, 2018

Throughout the past few days, we project members have been working on a design for a lab to help solve the salinity crisis. The plan is to create a system where the water can flow through the tubes, which will eventually hold plants, at a fast enough rate to make sure the plants can get enough nutrients and react to the salt, but slow enough so the water does not destroy the roots of the plants. We are currently working on the plans, but a few complications have arrived as the water pump we have pumps roughly a tenth of a gallon a second. In other words, too fast for the plants to survive in. The goal currently to make the simplest plan that still allows the plant to prosper with the currently overwhelming fast water pump we have.

August 27th, 2018

Hello, my name is Jack Stein and I am an 11th Grader. This year I decided to join the W.I.S.R.D. Institute as a way of pursuing and developing my passion for the world of science. As I joined the institute, I immediately joined the hydroponics project, determined to solve the salinity water crisis in the San Joaquin Valley agriculture. This is an issue which occurred a decade ago and created a spike in the salinity and pH level in the water supply of the valley. This affects the safety of the crops and the health of the consumers. I am looking forward to attempting to create a solution to this very real problem.