Journal 5.22.17.

This is our last week of WISRD! It has been an amazing year, and I am now working on writing my year end reflection that summarizes and keeps track of all the things we have accomplished in WISRD this year. It has been such an interesting and eye-opening experience to be in WISRD and the progress of my individuality as a learner has been unparalleled in the depth of my understanding of myself as a learner.

Journal 5.15.17.

This week has been filled with lots of work to wrap up the end of the year. The marigolds didn’t sprout as well as the mung beans did so we have 3 tiny plants instead of the 5 that we planted. However, the work is going well and we are working on finding WISRD members to continue the development of this project for next year now that we have successfully built our hydroponics unit.

Journal 5.7.17.

This week we finally threw away our mung beans because they have started to wither and die. We knew when we planted them that they were more of a short term growing cycle plant, so now we are finding a new plant to grow. Joe has some marigold seeds that we might use. I will post another update once we replant new marigold seeds in the unit.

Journal 4.29.17.

We are about to finish growing our sprouts and they are nearing the end of their growing cycle. They look great though! The mung beans do bring an odd smell to the hydroponics lab though… Also people have been disposing of lots of trash in our unit lately, which is frustrating.

Journal 4.21.17.

This week has been filled with plant care and monitoring the progress of our sprouts. We will soon need to find another plant to start once the sprouts (a short term plant cycle) are done germinating and die. We are thinking some sort of flowers.

Journal 4.12.17.

This week we started planting our plants this week. We are currently soaking pomegranate seeds and plan to buy herbs and beans to soak and plant. Joe is going to OSH this week to buy seedlings also maybe.

Attached is also an image of me stirring the growth mixture and nutrient that we prepared for the plants.

Journal 3.23.17.

I forgot to include a photo from our unit last time, so here is the full photo of our unit. We set up the growing media and will resume WISRD work after spring break.

Here is the unit! We have our LED light, fan, timer, reservoir bucket, bucket for waste water, wooden base with rubber leak-proof lining, growing media (baby starter cubes and bigger growing cubes), our fertilizer/growth liquid, and our pump with octobubbler for distributing the water.

Journal 3.17.17.

Our Hydroponics unit is fully set up! Our pump took a little bit of figuring out to do but it finally is functional. We are planting after we return from spring break. We will plant herbs like basil, thyme, dill, mint, and Joe also wants use to explore tomato plants as well.

Journal 3.10.17.

I have been reading this article about tomato genetics and how to modify the flavor “back into” a tomato. It deals with Hydroponics and I think the article is interesting to get a peek into the world of more complicated Hydroponics experiments. It is also nice to see the format of an abstract and other components of a white paper article.

Here is the link to the article:

Below is the citation for this article.


SCIENCE 27 JAN 2017 : 391-394

Journal 3.3.17.

We are planning to continue to thread PVC this week, however something mildly inconvenient has happened. Somehow, the PVC was lost or misplaced so we must problem solve. Bob is going to buy new PVC and we should try and see if we can recover the old PVC. Otherwise, if we cannot find the lost piping, then we have to buy new PVC.

Journal 2.23.17.

This week in WISRD Joe was discussing the measure of progress and it made me consider the learning value of WISRD and the effect of the Institute Model. Monday we didn’t have school. Wednesday, we just had Loli in class, and Thursday I worked on working with Tinkercad to make adjustments to my soap mold.

I think that while is important to strive for immense progress and change in terms of scientific progress, I also find myself feeling like I don’t make important or necessary progress to change the world” or solve a massive issue that plagues many people. And of course, I would love and be so proud to be one of those people who makes a huge impact on the world. I think I find myself feeling like I am not making enough progress when I compare myself to adults with PHDs, huge grant foundations, and jobs that facilitate and support their work. Obviously, I believe that high school students (or anyone of any age for that matter) can make important discoveries and do important work, but as a student who juggles many other things, I need to recognize that I have many obligations everywhere. I love being in WISRD and I think the importance of the Institute Model is that it encourages innovation from younger people who aren’t normally encouraged to take charge of their own learning. But I think the importance that I hope to gain from this project and my experience in WISRD is more about personal learning and impact, rather than global. Of course, I would love to make an impact globally or nationally, but I need to cement and build the foundational steps of learning how to be innovative, think for myself, and be in charge of my own learning (which takes a long time) before I try and champion immense change in the world. The ‘un-schooling’ that WISRD does is giving me the tools to think as an encouraged and celebrated individual academic, but I know that in order to make change, I first need to have the mindset and academic foundations to make innovation before I try to jump to higher levels of scientific discovery.

This is all to say that while on paper, I don’t appear to make much progress in terms of “changing the world”, I have changed my perspective and confidence about seeing myself not just as a student or a young person, but I’m learning to regard myself as a scientist and academic as well. This mindset that WISRD provides has been immensely life changing and I am continually thankful that I am building the foundations of my individual success and academic responsibility.

Journal 2.16.17.

This week in WISRD we tasked Felix with threading the piping we need to make the PVC frame. We cut the PVC wrongly so Joe needs to buy more, but he hasn’t been able to this week. Hopefully we will be purchasing the extra PVC soon (next week). I will update you on the progress of the threading as Felix uses the Lathe that he is currently restoring and working on. We set up the light and hung it above the unit in order to prep the space when we have everything ready.

Journal 2.9.17.

This week we received the final shipment from Greencoast Hydroponics. We assembled the structure of the five growing medias and placed the water drip trays on top of the medias. We sent Joe a draft of our mechanical sketch, and Joe plans to buy the PVC for the frame next week. The PVC will frame the reservoir and growing container. We assembled the fan and tested the grow light to make sure it works. We are waiting until the frame is purchased and built to move forward. Hopefully this will happen next week.

Journal 2.2.17.

I have been out sick this whole week but even though the Hydroponics team is short a member, there has still been a lot of progress made anyway. Reid and Maddie presented a short outline of our work to Joe, and they had a meeting to discuss “adding value” and steps to move forward. We officially dedicated our work in the Hydroponics lab to testing salinity specifically in relation to the Joaquin Valley. The Joaquin Valley is an important choice because it is locally based and directly affects the drought and issues of agriculture and environmentalism in California. We will work to produce our research and make sure that our work in Hydroponics adds value and insight into the world of Biology at WISRD. Moving forward, next week we will continue to set up the lab and hopefully finalize the mechanics of everything by the end of next week.


Journal 1.23.17.

We had a bit of a crisis during WISRD today! Water is leaking/seeping into the area under the stairs where we are working. This means construction of the space is halted for now as we are unable to build with water soaking the carpeting underneath. We also had to consolidate and move all the materials (especially the electronic components like the fan and light) into the plastic containers so nothing is being destroyed. We met with facilities and they are working on discovering the source of the water flow, and once we figure out the problem, we can resume building. I expect this is we be a catch-up week of blog posting and logistic management. I also worry that the water issue will not be resolved soon enough. Wish us luck!

Journal 1.18.17.

The lumber is arriving tomorrow and we have made our technical drawings for the construction of the catch basin. The catch basin will be 3′ x 4′ and approximately 4” high. The truck battery for Randy’s car is dead so the lumber is coming tomorrow instead of today. We begin construction tomorrow and I am going to Greencoast after school to pick up the things we still need from them. These items are the octobubbler and lid for the reservoir.

Journal 1.11.17.

Today 3/4 members of our group are out on a field trip to the Aquarium today. I measured the dimensions of the catch basin we are building which will be lined with rubber to protect the carpeting of the area we are building in to be protected from water if there is any kind of spillage (god forbid). Randy (head of facilities at Wildwood) and Joe Wise are going to OSH or Home Depot to buy the materials we need for the catch basin as well as some PVC and mesh netting for the area. We will plan to hang a curtain which will resemble a mosquito net to protect the area from any students who try to touch the unit. This mesh netting will still enable the area to be viewed and observed, but hopefully provide an area that is protected. I worked on taping down an outline of where the catch basin will be located. This means that, now, we need to decide if we want the length of the catch basin to be perpendicular or flush with the wall.

Journal 1.4.17.

It is our first week back from break and we are hitting the ground running. We are visiting Greencoast Hydroponics at their Venice location. We are purchasing the materials for the unit we plan to build. We will meet with the specialists at the location for consultation so they can help us construct some of the challenging mechanics. We have typed up our budget lists and have included extra budget items in order to create a wider budget range, which we can scale down to the bare minimum of pieces required to buy and build the unit. We met with Greencoast Hydroponics at the Venice location and the meeting was incredibly successful. We bought all of the necessay equipment for the setup, but we still need PVC piping to build the frame. This weekend I will be going to Home Depot to buy PVC. I am excited to start building!

Journal 12.15.16.

We proposed our hydroponics project to the board during their meeting on 12/13 and were approved for a grant of $1000! This is amazing and I cannot wait to construct and test the unit once we compile all the parts after break. Our next goals we have created are as follows. We planned goals for the first couple weeks following our return from winter break. Here is the (somewhat finished) list of items to work on and finish after break:

  • find 2 labs for nathaniel to run
  • meet with facilities about area under library (feasibility)
  • compile and store 3 categories of parts (buy, scavenge, make)
  • hardware store run (pvc, timer, rolling cart)
  • logo?

Journal 12.8.16.

We have spent the week preparing for our presentation for the Board which will occur during the Board meeting on Tuesday 12/13 at lunch. We are writing our vitae, essential questions, learning outcomes, technical knowledge, science objectives and more. We will submit our proposal after STEM on Monday and meet with the board during lunch to answer any questions and defend our proposal. This week we also spent typing up the budget plan and working to get a rough estimate of how much money we will need for our proposed plan. We are working to keep maintenance and upkeep costs for not only year zero, but also for future years to come. Also, on Thursday, Joe gave us an amazing mini lesson/demonstration of the physics behind why you can see through glass and not through walls. It was very interesting.

Journal 11.28.16

Today we are returning from Thanksgiving Break and celebrating Cyber Monday. We have outlined our board for the week which includes the evaluations that we need to write for Joe Wise in order for him to be able to fill out our narratives. Joe also showed us a cool science trick having to with pressure and particles in a can. He heated an aluminum soda can filled with a little bit of water and once the water boiled, quickly submersed the opening of the can under colder water and the can was crushed immediately. Very cool, and would be a good trick to show at Innovate.d LA.

Journal 11.21.16

No school this week because of Thanksgiving break.

Journal 11.14.16

We attended the WISRD Evening Lecture Series where Dr. Shannon Mumenthaler and Colin Flanders spoke about their ventures to Chile and beyond in conjunction with NASA and how their work relates to oncology and genetics! Amazing! The poster presentations were a lot of fun to do and preseting my work to parents, teachers, and STEM enthusiasts was insightful and great to do. Attached is a picture of our poster.

Screen Shot 2016-12-02 at 10.45.38 AM

Journal 11.7.16

The election on Tuesday was a pretty chaotic time and so we did mostly little tasks like updating project page and organizing our board. It was harder to focus, but we kept ourselves busy.  Also I finished all the design for the poster. It looks amazing. 

Journal 10.31.16

This week we had STEM only twice because of Halloween but we are making new plans in terms of short term goals for our project. We revised our goals for the week and caught our new group members Nathaniel and Cesar up to date. We are incorporating them into our group because they have more an interest in working on lab-based work, whereas I am more interested in the technical building of the hydroponics unit.

Journal 10.24.16

This week we reworked our schedule again. It is as follows:

Lela + Maddie:

Write their Article by Friday 10/28/16 and send it to Josie

Lucy + Reid:

Write their Article by Friday 10/28/16 and send it to Josie

Lucy + Lela + Nathaniel + Cesar + Reid:

Create 2 Posters by Monday 11/7/16 and send it to Joe


Do More Research and create a bibliography ASAP

Reid + Lucy:

Make a budget and plan. See the parts we have, what we need to get, and what we can build. ASAP

Nathaniel + Cesar:

Create their Lab ASAP


Post on the Sustainability page

Update Nathaniel and Cesar on the goings on of the Sustainability project and induct them into the cult of hydroponics.

Journal 10.17.16

Some of the WISRD members (Aiden, Lela, Josie, Ihsan, Maddie, Molly, Miles, Reid, Lucy, Loli, and Joe Wise) attended a STEM convention in Anaheim. The CA STEM Symposium of 2016 was an amazing event. We set up our WISRD booth and got to talk to educators, students, and scientists from other schools and areas. It was a great opportunity to be able to see many different ways STEM is implemented in schools across California. I was also fortunate enough to solder and build a rocketship with a simple LED and copper wire! The women from out group also attended a lecture from Reshma Saujani, who runs the summer program Girls Who Code. She lectured on the importance of getting women and young girls invested in the STEM fields, and how the future of tech jobs are increasingly prosperous and necessary.

Journal 10.9.16

We planned the logistics of our visit to the CA STEM Symposium next week. Maddie and I will miss the next two classes this week due to volleyball but Reid and Lucy will be sending us a report of what they worked on and I will make sure to keep working on my own personal deadlines. Maddie and I have an article due in less than 3 weeks so we are writing it right now. We also will submit edits to Alicia/Josie on 10/28.

Journal 10.3.16

I missed all the classes this week but Reid and Lucy continued to work through and dissect the budget plan that GreenCoast gave us. We are now compiling a list of what we can buy, what we can make/scavenge, and what we already have. This will be more cost efficient and better for the environment. This also means that we can utilize the abundance of resources and materials that the WISRD Lab already provides. We are also working to establish the budget plan in terms of maintenance and long-term plans for upkeep. This means, simply, that whatever we come up with for an initial budget, it’ll probably be double that for upkeep included. We are planning to propose before Winter Break.


This week in WISRD we did a big debrief  about the Greencoast Hydroponics meeting. Reid and Lucy told us how the meeting with the representatives went. They got a sense of the budget requirements, it turns out this hydroponics project is going to be more expensive than we thought. So we have made a plan to try and scavenge, collect, and repurpose as many things as possible for the project. It will be good to try and do it as homemade as possible, but we need to maintain a balance between using our own supplies and accurate project work. The hydroponics project will be good for us to get a sense of problem solving and budget management.


Today is the big day where Reid and Lucy (and Loli and Paula) will go to Greencoast Hydroponics meeting. Today in class we brainstormed a lot in anticipation for the meeting tomorrow. We came up with questions to ask the Greencoast representatives that we will use in the meeting in order to gauge a better sense of our price, feasibility, what we need to purchase directly from Greencoast vs. what we can scavenge. These questions will help us to move forward with our project proposal and how to best approach our project in the next couple weeks.


In STEM this week we set up our meeting with Greencoast Hydroponics. Loli and Reid and maybe Lucy are going to meet with them Friday 9/23 from 3-4 pm. They will hope to gain a budget idea and hopefully talk to the Hydroponics experts about setting up our lab. We brainstormed ideas about where to start our lab (the deck, the library, the area under the stairs by the library). I hope we will get a sense of our budget for this project and will be able to hopefully sketch out some designs and plans in terms of our space. Maddie and I will be catching up with Reid and Lucy when they return from the Hydroponics meeting. We also brainstormed possible plants to grow: succulents, carrots, strawberries, herbs, etc… I am hopeful we get the specifics of our project down this week so we can start to finalize our proposal and lab project outline.


This week we brainstormed. A lot. We talked over different ideas and concluded that my group (Lucy H., Reid B, and Maddie M.) wants to be a more Life Science oriented group. We bounced a lot ideas off of each other. We discussed growing chicks, psychology, criminology, and finally came to a consensus about something to do. We all had an interest in Hydroponics and Urban Gardening. We are eager to learn as we go and hopefully if this plan pans out well, we will be heading into a new area of the STEM program where we will all be trying something new. I am excited and optimistic about the new plans we are forming and I look forward to making the most of the opportunities for lab work and publishing that WISRD has to offer!


This week in STEM we continued to find out what kinds of areas of study we are interested in. Joe gave us more tours of the STEM lab and we got to see some interesting little science tricks such as the drinking bird toy, a cool thermometer based on Galileo barometric pressure thermometer, and the “happy-sad” ball trick. Joe and Loli also helped us to form semi-solid groups of the people we are working with. For the time being, my group is Maddie, Reid, and Lucy and since we think we want to work on something more related to life science, Loli will be our mentor and supervisor. The first two weeks of WISRD I have felt a little overwhelmed with all of the existing projects and science experiments going on in the STEM lab, but I hope that throughout the year I can get a better grasp on everything. Hopefully I will not only get to work on something new that I love, but also learn how to use a lot of the tools and machines in the lab.


Our first week in WISRD was amazing. We started off the year by getting a tour around the STEM lab. Joe introduced us to a lot of the machines and projects that WISRD is working on right now such as the Lathe and all of the 3D printing materials. We got to take apart some old printers and computers which was very interesting and new to me. Joe gave us a cursory description of the proposal process and introduced us to a lot of the current/former projects that WISRD worked on last year. It was interesting to see the range of topics that students are interested in and I hope I can expand the Life Sciences portion of WISRD because that is what I am more interested in. I’m excited to move forward and start brainstorming project ideas and hopefully start forming some sort of yearlong plan.