—— Sadie’s Journal Entries —— 

Hello and welcome to my WISRD Journal, documentation of my research, studies, and progress in WISRD is found here. My goal in life is to become a marine biologist and WISRD is my first step into a scientific environment. I hope my four years in the institute provides me with the tools to start thinking from a scientific standpoint. 

Email: Sadieg21@wildwood.org


  1. Entries are updated in ascending order. Older entries are located lower on the page
  2. The page is organized in groupings of journal entries containing more than one entry and is (for the most part) in chronological order 
  3. My journal is only from my perspective and so information on progress made by other hydroponics members will be found in their journals:
    1. Ximena (2021) Co-PI
    2. Jack (2020)
    3. Nicholas (2020)
    4. Violet (2022)
    5. Will (2023)

— Senior Year —



January 12 – Third trial

I apologize for such inconsistent writing this year. Even with activity happening in the lab, a lot of it is repetitive because I’m just running 3 trials of the same experiment – each taking up to 6 weeks. As the title suggests, I’ve actually started the third (and hopefully) last salinity trial for our experiment. Currently, the plants are in their second week of the growing stage and I will be putting the salt concentrations into the reservoirs at the end of the week.

In class, the group has been working on the third draft of the method paper. 

Today the seniors and freshmen were just given the heads up that we will be writing an article for this semester’s issue of the Inquier. The last two years I’ve had my articles relate to the ocean, and I plan to continue that trend because marine biology is my passion 🙂

November 9-10 –

plants were transferred on Nov. 9

Nutrients added Nov. 10

November 1 – Restart of Trial 2

As mentioned before in this journal, the second trial that happened in September could NOT be used due to too many variables not appropriately controlled. On November 1st I began germinating a new set of lettuce seeds and will transfer them next weekend. The poster session is coming up and the members are finishing up the poster and reviewing it for spelling and clarity. 

Title: TBD

summery: TBD
Journal Entries: 
– October 28 – Dark Matter Day
– October 24 – Methods paper
– Septemeber 26 – End of trial 2
– September 10 – Podcast
– August 24- 28, 2020: the start of senior year
Open entries

October 28 – Dark Matter Day

On October 28 WISRD held its first-ever online Dark Matter Day. Because we didn’t hold any fun experiments as we’d do in the actual school building, the event felt sort of like a poster night presentation – which isn’t a bad thing but it felt more formal.

The highlight of the night would be the WISRD rap at the end of the night. The Hydroponics lab was featured and we ALL were supposed to be in the video but Dani and Ximena’s videos had technical difficulties so that left my video to be the lone survivor. I basically had to do a rap solo and although everyone loved it, my part is the bane of my existence. Other than my awkwardness towards my part of the rap I’d say the night was successful, we had a pretty good turn out – about 40+ people, and everyone asked engaging questions. 

The next event is the fall poster session on November 9. The hydroponics lab is working to finish the poster and ready ourselves for the lab’s 7th poster night!

October 24 – Methods paper

Ximena, Dani, and I are working to write a draft of a methods paper, detailing the use of the hydroponics lab and the procedure for the experiment. I’m writing the methods section which includes all details of the experiment, particularly how the experiment is going to be conducted.

I’m writing this entry on November 5 so currently, the group has feedback on the draft we sent to professor Moreno. We will review the comments and resubmit another draft.

September 26 – End of trial 2

Today I extraction the plants for trial 2 and measured their roots, took the weight of their total biomass, root mass, and shoot mass, just like trial one. Although I collected all the necessary data for the trial, I am thinking of exempting this trial from the experiment for a couple of reasons.

(1) I had failed to take salinity readings and pictures for several days

(2) Because there was a lack of salinity readings and documentation of the trial, the plants remained an extra week in the hydroponics lab

(3) In the middle of the trial, the red LED light above Tube 3 (control plants) shorted out and I didn’t have the materials to replace it and so the control did not receive the full spectrum light like the other two tubes 

(4) Additional Heavy 16 Prime was not added at the designated time slot and the trial received less nutrient than that of trial 1

(5) The clay pebbles used were used too many times before and grew mold which led to decay in the plants and less healthy plants

All these factors are making it hard to use the trial in the full-scale experiment. Too many variables contributed to the decline in growth between the first trial and this one. And so, the group has decided that it would be best to exempt this trial from future data writing.


September 10- Podcast

I’m excited to say that the Hydroponics Lab was featured on the second-ever episode of the WISRD Podcast! Dani and Ian interviewed me and Ximena about the origin of our project and how far we’ve come since starting it in our Freshman year. It was really nice to be able to give an overview of the groups’ hard work and commitment to the project. 

Ximena and I continue to work on the methods paper which we hope to have a rough draft of soon so Professor Moreno can review it.


August 24- 28, 2020 – the start of senior year

The new school year has started and this is now my fourth consecutive year being in the model Institute. I’m resuming straight from where I left off in summer. The year is starting off remote and the institute is working on finding ways to make projects more collaborative while doing remote learning. Now that Ximena and I are in our last year of WISRD and highschool, we are looking to create strong papers from our experience and experiments working in the hydroponics lab and in WISRD. We are also looking for an underclassman who is willing to take continue the studies in the hydroponics lab.

On the 25, we had our first WISRD Board meeting of the school year. We talked about the school year and what distributive learning will do to WISRD. I am now part of a committee, with Max, Ian, and Scott Johnson, who will review the WISRD standards and possibly improve them to fit our new distributive learning style.

On the 26, in the zoom breakout room, Ximena, Dani and I talked about what the lab is doing now. I shared all the summer documents with Dani because she’s coming back to the hydroponics lab for her last year. Dani and Ian have been preparing a WISRD Podcast and this year they want to do an episode on the hydroponics lab! I think this is the perfect time for the lab to share their process and story with a broader audience. 

— Summer 2020 —

Summer Trial: June 29 – August 23

Summary: The sprouts are in and the start of the summer trial starts now. The trial takes the entire summer and the second trial starts right as summer comes to an end. A more in-depth procedure is established.
Journal Entries: 
-August 8-16: End of trial 1
– July 22: Trial 1 so far  
– July 22: Procedure
– July 7: Growing into stage 2
– June 29: Lab function
Open entries

August 8-15, 2020 – End of trial 1

The first trial ended and the day was full of data collecting. Root biomass, shoot biomass, total biomass, root length, and the number of plants in each root basket was recorded. I planned to measure the mass of the plants in the grow baskets in each tube and then calculate an average from them. Because some plants had more sprouts than others, I took the biomasses of each root basket and then divide that number by the number of plants in the basket so I would have an average; (mass/#plants). 

On August 8th, I took the root baskets from one tube at a time and measured the root length first before pulling them out. Next, I carefully shook the root basket to dislodge the clay pebbles. I took the entire plant(s) from the root basket and weighed it on an electronic balance. Next, I cut the roots and weighed them. I had cut the roots right at the point where they turned white. After the root biomass, I weighed the shoot biomass. I recorded the data and repeated the same process for the other two tubes.

 I collected a leaf sample from each of the nine holes and put them in a ziplock bag labeled “tube1, tube 2, tube 3” with leaves from the corresponding tube. Following the advice of Dr. Sandhu, I put the leaves in a dehydrator for 72 hours to completely dry the leaves. I will be sending the leaf samples to him later when he is able to reach his lab. For now, I dehydrate them to preserve them and keep them from molding. 

The next week consisted of cleaning the entire lab in preparation for the next trial. I started germinating new seeds on August 9.

On August 11, I contacted Dr. Sandhu (our collaborated from the Riverside Salinity Lab) because of an offer he suggested during our first meeting. He said he was able to run an ion analysis on the plant leaves from our experiment; I contacted him to make sure he was still willing to do that for us. Due to him and his colleagues being remote from their lab, He is unable to run an ion analysis at the moment. And so he promoted me to dehydrate the leaves so he could run tests on them later when he has access to his lab. A few days later I bought a dehydrator machine, (about $36 online). The dehydrator has only one setting and doesn’t even have an on or off switch. For 72 hours at 76ºF, the dehydrator ran. Afterward, I collected the leaves and placed them in plastic bags (labeled properly). 

On August 16, I transferred the lettuce sprouts into the main hydroponics system and I will let them continue to grow for the next 2 weeks. 32ml of Veg A nutrient and Veg B nutrients were added in each system.

July 22, 2020- Trial 1 so far

The first trial is running well. There’s about a week left in this one. I’ll share the graph of the salinity of the tubes on Twitter once it’s over. Like the procedure says, I’ll weigh the biomass, shoot biomass, and take the average of leaf width for each tube.

When I went online to the nutrient calculator I found out there was no amount of Veg A &B recommended past the 2nd week. I did some research and found that the Heavy 16 Prime is viewed best for growing the next few weeks. I got a small bottle of the nutrients and added 12ml into each reservoir (3 per gallon) The nutrients was pitch black and turned the water in the reservoir black. In the tube, the water was dark brown. 

The calculations for the salt is posted on the left.

July 22, 2020- Procedure

Research question: What does salt do to a plant? As the soil in the San Joaquin valley increases in salinity each year, what can locals expect from their produce? Can the salt concentration in Butterhead lettuce be predicted?

Eight butterhead lettuce seeds are placed in the root baskets filled with clay pebbles. The germination tray is filled with distilled water to the edge. A heating pad is stationed underneath the germination tray. The light above the tray is set on an automatic timer (7 am to 7 pm) The plants remained in the germination tray for 10 days and then they are transferred to the hydroponics lab.

Each tube system of the hydroponics lab is filled with 4 gallons of distilled water. 32ml of Veg A and B nutrients are added to the water and stirred. After being transferred, the sprouts are allowed to continue to grow with NO salt added. At the beginning of the second week, 40ml of Veg A and B nutrients are added to each reservoir. The lights of the hydroponics lab use the same timer as the germination tray and its cycle is the same, 7 am to 7 pm.

At the start of the third week, NaCl (salt) is added to Tube 1 and 2.  The second tube has 35.2g of NaCl and the first tube has 70.4g of NaCl. Along with the salt, Heavy 16 Prime is added to the reservoirs.

After the salt is added, every day the salinity of each reservoir is measured. Start with the control reservoir then move onto the second tube, ending with the third. Wash the sensor with distilled water between each reading. Enter the numbers into an Excel spreadsheet. At the end of the trial, the spreadsheet will be turned into a graph.

Throughout the growing process, photos are taken every day in the same position. 

At the end of the trial, the biomass of each plant is weighed, root mass is weighed, the average of leaf width in measure. 

The trail will start over again following the same procedure. 

July 7, 2020 – Growing into stage 2

The plants have been in the hydroponics lab for a week and are growing. Two newly germinated seeds were transferred on July 5 into the hydroponics lab. I check the lab twice a day, one in the morning and another in the evening. I check the water level in the tube to make sure it doesn’t overflow; the lights to make sure they’re all on; the valves to make sure there aren’t any leaks; the water level in the reservoir to see if the water level significantly changed.  

Here is a link for the number of nutrients that are supposed to go into the reservoirs and at what point to add more

 June 29, 2020- Lab function 

The lab has now been functioning for a full 24 hours and it’s looking good. 4 gallons of distilled water was used in each reservoir and 5 ml of each nutrient solution was used for every gallon of water. So, 20 ml of Vega A and 20 ml of Vega B was used in each reservoir. I used a Pippete and a graduated cylinder to measure the nutrient solution. The plants look a bit weak, but it could be from the transfer to the lab. Using reference photos from earlier in the year, it takes about a week before the plants start to take off in the lab. Because some plants look like they won’t make it, I’ve started germinating 5 extra grow baskets in case I need to replace some plants.

The nine 3D printed root baskets I have are the only ones I took with me from school after moving to remote learning. I’m slowly moving to a new kind of root basket (image to the left). It’s two grow baskets, one inside another. The black root basket has the needed diameter to catch the sides of the grow tube while the white grow basket achieves depth so the plant can have a substantial amount of water. 


Another Lab redesign: June 14- 24

Summary: Since acquiring the lab in May, I had begun refurbishing the lab. New structures, caps were added and the light was redone. More detail on how that was accomplished is explained more thoroughly in the journal entries
Journal Entries:
– June 19: Wiring
– June 16: Expanding Light
– June 14: Restart the plants
Open entries

June 19, 2020 – Wiring  

The wiring is pretty simple but has a lot of meticulous details to remember. Each grow tube has 3 aluminum rods that hold the lights right above the lab. 2 of the 3 rods have white LED lights and the 3rd has red and blue LEDs. All the Red and Blue lights eventually connect to one ballast through a 4 piece connector. The two white LED rods are connected to a single ballast labeled light 1 2 or 3, depending on which grow to tube the light corresponds with. 

June 16, 2020 – expanding light

The next step to fixing up the lab is expanding the light. I haven’t written about it in my journal, but I had made a light that would illuminate two grow tubes; which we were experimenting with. The two sets of lights were able to be transferred to the larger 3ft by 3ft aluminum frame. Drilling and assembling took all day. More LED strips were ordered for the last set of lights and so putting the lights together and doing the wiring will have to be done another day.

June 14, 2020- Restart the plants

Today I had to restart the germinating plants for a couple of reasons.

  1. I did not complete the new pieces of the lab in time for the plants to be transferred.
    1. The light needs to be redone to accommodate the three tubes; it’s only set up for 2 grow tubes so far. Once that’s set up we have to order another set of LED strips for the additional row of lights.
    2. The caps of the grow tubes weren’t done. My father is helping make a new cap for the grow tubes and the first test of a cap leaked and so we had to redo how we mad the caps, causing a setback in the time table.
  2. The plants died due to dehydration. It was my fault, the plants dried up because I forgot to add more distilled water into the germination tray.
  3. Not all the plants had grown in.
    1. I can’t look deeper into why some plants didn’t sprout but because one of the three bigger baskets did not grow any sprouts I had to restart their germination process.
      1. The reason why we have multiple baskets is to ensure there are enough sprouts to run a trial; however, I only had 3 larger baskets left. 

June 9, 2020 – Deck done

Finishing up the deck the lab will sit on. It raises the entire lab by 14″ which will make it easier to observe the plants and refill the reservoirs. The four legs are in an L shape (has a 90º angle) a slight wrap around the corner so all sides are supported. The plywood is supported by a wood plank underneath- bolted from both sides. The metal light structure is screwed into the plywood. 


Instructions on the Duel Outlet: May 31

Summary: Instructions on how to reset and set up the timer for the light
Open entry

May 31, 2020- tweeted some sprouts

The smart plug I mentioned a few days ago (May 25) couldn’t work because the smart plug couldn’t reach the wifi that was at my house from the garage. So I bought a Duel Outlet Outdoor digital Timer made by BN-LINK. It can set up 8 different on and off programs and can hold two devices. I set the timer to automatically turn on at 7:00 am and off at 7:00 pm.   

If for any reason the manual for the duel outlet goes missing, the instructions for setting up the on and off option is posted below:

Today I tweeted a picture of new butterhead lettuce sprouts. I used distilled water and filled the tray about three-quarters of an inch. 

WISRD. (2020, May 31). #sprouts #wisrd hydroponics lab is in the first week of their germination process. So salts have been added yet. #hydroponics #agriculture #garden #innovation #research #salinitycrisis #sanjoaquinvalley [tweet] https://twitter.com/wisrd/status/1267247168026337280?s=21 


— Junior Year —


Meetings with Dr. Sandhu and Professor Moreno: May 15-26

Summary: Ximena and I had zoom meetings with Dr. Sandhu, a geneticist at the Riverside Salinity Laboratory, and Professor Moreno; a scientific writing skills coach. We got amazing feedback on our work and are on the right track. The details of the notes given to us are recorded in the journal entries
Journal Entries:
– May 26: Professor Moreno
– May 15: Dr. Sandhu
Open entries

May 26, 2020- Professor Moreno

In the last week of school, Ximena and I had a zoom meeting with Professor Moreno who has recently started a collaboration with WISRD. She helped us recognize when we have material to write about and how to start. 

* Disclaimer: the notes I took were not in full detail and some information will be lacking in units and will be confusing. Sorry!

Notes were: 

  • There are four types of papers- research, technical (can also be called method papers), Review (WISRD called these white papers), and theoretical papers.
    • Technical/ method paper: is for the techniques used and the method of the experiment
    • Theoretical papers: used when an experiment can’t take place such as astronomical or evolutionary instances
  • Our papers should be from a scientific standpoint
    • Start with background: what current knowledge do we have
    • A hypothesis  builds from the knowledge
    • The background should help the audience form the hypothesis before you even state it
  •  Depersonalize the paper
  • Specific experiment to show the function of the lab
    • eg. “In order to form a functioning lab, you need A, B, and C
  • Great papers have methods indicating the facilities used to grow the plants
    • A full trial would be a great addition to the paper
  •  An ok paper would have the school trial and the trial made at home
  • How to know when we have something to write about:
    • Sections/blocks of writing that can be accumulated for later
    • writing white papers that can be used for a final version
    • when you have a significant amount of research that can be used for later
    • when you have so much information you can’t keep it in your head
      • when you have something that you might need to cite later
  • My first paper should be a technical paper
    • Should include the supplied and equipment used
    • a background
    • method -shown in pictures
    • results- shown in pictures
    • discussion
    • future directions
      • what next in the experiment
      • plan way ahead of time
  • The audience
    • students- they might try and recreate the experiment
    • scientists- might be reviewing the work
  • Sound smart but make sure to clarify words that would be hard to identify for a nonscience person
  • 1 month for the entire rough draft

May 15, 2020 – Devinder Sandhu

Ximena and I were given the opportunity to speak with Devinder Sandhu, a research geneticist working at the US Salinity Laboratory in Riverside. Joe helped us set up a zoom meeting with Dr. Sandhu during our WISRD class. Ximena and I asked him questions regarding our experiment and the best approach to it.

* Disclaimer: the notes I took were not in full detail and some information will be lacking in units and will be confusing. Sorry!

Notes were:

  • Keep the nutrients level constant or as constant as possible
  • Control tube: Just nutrients (will have some conductivity)
  • Second tube: 3.54, will have a 50% reduction, 40 millimolar*
  • Third tube: 7.5 or 8.0, 89% reduction, 80 Millimolar*
  • Remember
    • not too many seeds in each basket
    • make sure there aren’t nutrients in the clay pebbles
    • about 10 seeds in each basket
  • 3 applications 3 times
    • After performing a trial, the EXACT same experiment will be conducted again so at the end of the 3 trials there will be 9 different data points for each of the 9 holes in our lab. 
    • 3 values for each
    • 3 times again for 9 values
  • The trial period will last around 5-6 weeks
    • a week and a half for germination 
    •  2 weeks for the plants to grow in the hydroponics lab (nutrients will be added at this stage)
    •  weeks of salt being added and observed
  •  A method to use for collecting data:
    • split root for root biomass
    • The hight of the lettuce is not something to measure, instead, use the width of the leaves
    • leaf tissue: pick leaf tissue and wash with distilled water
    • chlorophyll content in leaves: grind the leaves
      • salt will increase the chlorophyll 
    • Check for Cell wall damage
      •  80 mm hight will damage the cell walls
    • Electrolight leakage
      • less electro light leakage is better

*My notes say lookup protocols, but I’m not sure what protocol I was supposed to lookup

  • Salt will make it hard to cut thin slices
  • Control the high, there will be a difference in leaf crispness
  • Dr. Sandhu stated that he would be able to run the shoots through a process at his lab for us so we are not in collaboration with him
  • Brief summary:
    • need to keep water level the same
    • a lot of water is taken up by the plants
    • check the plants weekly
    • maintain dc (*direct current?)


Pandemic Plants: April 11- May 28

Summary: This is what was happening during the first few months of the pandemic. Not a lot was happening with the lab because collaborating with the other members was difficult. Planning for new additions to the lab was thought out during this time. More information in the dropdown
Journal Entries:
– May 28: Additional structures
– May 25: Germinating again
– May 4 – 23: Moved lab
– April 11: Moving the germination station
Open entries

May 28, 2020- Additional structures

Now that I have possession and access to the lab 24/7 I have been planning on integrating new structures into the lab. 

  1. I’m going to raise the level of the wooden box that the lab sits in. The box with the plastic covering will lay on a larger box that will raise the entire lab about a foot or a foot and a half. The idea is to make the lab higher and more accessible to members.
  2. The next structure being built will be the new light structure. Before leaving for remote learning, I had brought in a new light and had planned on hanging it on the previous light structure; but now, having a larger light, I had to think of a new light structure to support the new light. The idea is to have a metal structure (box-shaped) that covers the entire lab. The sides are all open so we have access to the lab and the light is high enough that someone my height (5’3″) can comfortably work without hitting their head. The metal frame can also hang black cloth so the excess light doesn’t bother anyone.
  3. Note: the light previously built was made for 2 grow tubes but seeing as though we are moving to a full-scale lab I will be transforming and building a 3ft by 3ft light to accommodate the extra added tube.
  4. Note: When the lab was taken down because of construction at school, the caps that were printed were not retrieved from school or could not be found. I don’t have a 3D printer at home so brand new caps will have to be made.

May 25, 2020- Germinating again

I set up the germination station and I’m currently growing a new set of butterhead lettuce. Now that I have the lab, I’m hoping for a successful trial.

  • I have 6 small baskets and 3 large baskets set up in the germination station.
  • 8 seeds in each one and all are positioned in a single line right below the light.
  • The pad is set to 81º F 
  • The light is currently not on a timer because I was logged out of the account but luckily I have a smart plug and am currently using. If the plug is used in the future by other members the account is:
    • Name: Sadie Gardiner
    • email: sadieg21@wildwood.org
    • Password Desey80ate (the D is uppercase)

Besides setting up the lab I’m also working to construct an additional structure that will raise the lab about a foot and a half. further details will be updated later.

May 4-23, 2020-  Moving Lab

May 23- The lab was set up in my garage. The germination station was set up in the forefront corner with the lab close by.

May 5-22 -I had to clean the garage to make room for the hydroponics lab. I have a hose right next to the lab so it’s pretty convenient 

May 4- The hydroponics lab was retrieved from school. Joe helped take all the hydroponics items from the storage and bring them to a meetup point so that my dad could retrieve the lab

April 11, 2020- Moving the Germination station

Even after putting the nutrients in the germination tray, the plants could not grow past a certain point. They still looked like small sprouts. Their leaves remained small and didn’t grow outward. There were many possible variables that could have affected this stunt in growth. The hydroponics lab at school circulated the water and nutrients but the tray where I had the plants growing did not. The light of the hydroponics lab is almost 20x brighter than the germination light I had. In an attempt to grow the plants more I moved the germination tray outside.

The plants have not grown since given their nutrients and I believe it’s due to the lack of light they are receiving. As seen in the other trial, light played an important role in the growth of the plants and so to see if it’s the lack of light that’s stunting the plant’s growth, I’ve moved them outside. The set up stayed the same by moving the entire germination station outside. The plants were given 2 L of distilled water, 4mL of Veg A and B nutrients, and had their dome placed on top of them. Besides observational data, I recorded the height of two plants before they were put outside. Plant 1 was about 3.40 inches. And Plant 2 was about 3.65 inches. Plant 1 experienced about 1,163 LUX and Plant 2 experienced 1,324 LUX. Outside the plants now experience 97,640 LUX.

March 1-16, 2020- Plants and the Pandemic

The first week of March was the upper school’s Outdoor Ed and so the group decided the best choice would be to germinate new seeds while away, but unfortunately the old plants needed to be taken out and discarded. While germinating the new plants I documented the details of each day on a slide presentation. We had about a week of school and then Wildwood went to remote learning. The switch was difficult for the group because we had to leave the lab behind. To continue any sort of progress I brought the germination tray home. For two weeks I germinated them and then added Veg A and B nutrients.

With social distancing, the Archer symposium is in question. We’re not sure if it’s going to happen but we are going to continue the plan as before.


Successful Growth of Plants!: January 24 – February 29

Summary: We won the  Archer STEM Grant Award. The team was able to grow butterhead lettuce hydroponically and for a month we let them grow; up until InnovatedLA. I wrote down some observations about the grow light we were using which you can read more about in the drop-down journal entries.
Journal Entries:
– February 29: Innovated LA
– February 7 – 28: Plants pt. 2 and lights
– January 24 – February 3: Plants
– January 21: Archer grant
Open entries

February 29, 2020- Innovated LA

Innovated LA was successful. There were lots of people who saw the lab and took interest in what we’re doing with them. There were a lot of kids surprisingly- many from the lower campus and some not even associated with Wildwood. We presented the fully-grown lettuce heads and showed visitors the hydroponics system. At the same time, the group decided how we were going to proceed with the lab given that Outdoor Ed was in a few days. We decided that we’re going to clean the lab and then start a new batch of seeds when we get back.

We disposed of the lettuce that we had grown for about a month and a half. The root baskets were destroyed because of the over-expanded roots that had occupied the entire basket. I’m thinking that we shouldn’t leave the plants in for so long that the baskets get destroyed; unless we plan to remake baskets every trial. We don’t need to fully grow the plants; data and observations can be collected in an earlier stage.  

February 7- 28, 2020 – Plants pt. 2 and Lights

Between the time of February 3 and February 7, a large difference in appearance occurred within the plants. The plants took up the entire root basket. The left grow tube grew better than the right side and the following are the difference between the two sides in the perspective of the left side:

The left side has a single LED light to the outermost left. The left tube’s water flow is uneven and has a ripple effect in the back. The light is slanted and the left side is further away from the left. 

[The ripple effect in the back is thought to be caused by the movement of the water exiting the grow tube. The water exiting is not streamlined and the rubber hose backs up, creating a sudden stop in the water flow. The water flow then ripples down along the grow tube. Whether this effect favors the growth of the plants is yet to be determined] 

The light situation goes as followed: The current lights are not strong enough to provide the required amount of light we desire. Additionally, the light doesn’t give off the full spectrum which, although not essential, will help provide an ideal environment. At home, I built a light fixture for the two grow tubes and took it to school.

[The light consisted of 12 strings on LED lights along 6 parallel metal rods. Of those 6 rods, 2 of them are red LED and the rest blue. These colors give off the full spectrum] 

January 24- February 3, 2020- Plants

The group relocated the germinated plants into the hydroponics lab. The lab is filled with 15 Liters of water and added nutrients to the reservoirs.

[The nutrients were given to the plants in the second stage (vegi stage) indicated on the back of the nutrient bottles. That dosage lasted half a month until new nutrients in the same quantity were added.]

[2 mL of each nutrients solution was used]

The figure to the right shows the grow tubes on January 24, 2020

As time went on the water level would recede due to evaporation and because the plants would use the water, so the water level attempted to remain the same. We would refill to a set point in the reservoir.

[Knowing the dimensions of the reservoir and the height of the water level at 15 Liters, we can determine how much water to add in to meet the same height as 15 Liters of water]

[Later, Joe recommends the team to use a float to use a signal when the water level dips past a point]

A week later the plants are growing rapidly. The leaves of the plants are growing out and becoming larger in size. The amount of leaves per root basket is also rising. 

January 21, 2020 – Archer grant

Exciting news, The hydroponics received half the requested grant from the Archer STEM Grant award. Moving forward we will be applying for the Archer RISE Award, due by the 19 of July, and speaking at a symposium on May 16, 2020. 


The Hydroponics Lab Plant: December 4- January 14

Summary: Ximena and I wanted to transfer the Malabar and Butterhead sprouts to the hydroponics lab to see which did best in a hydroponics setting. We observed the two plants for a few weeks and added nutrients to the reservoirs. After the few weeks, we found the plant we wanted to use in our experiment and began germinating a full batch of seeds. We also found some issues with the light we were using – details in the drop-down titled “open entries” 
Journal Entries:
– January 14: Light problems
– January 8: Growing plants pt. 2
– December 16: Growing plants
– December 11: Board meeting and nutrients of the hydroponics lab
– December 6-9: Update on the Malabar and butterhead
– December 4: Transplanting. the plants
Open entries

January 14, 2020- Light problems

So, the seeds are germinating beautifully, and are close to transferring into the grow tubes. However, after measuring the amount of light each hole receives It’s apparent that there is a large uneven amount of distributed light. Besides the unequal distribution, the plants themselves aren’t getting enough light. Butterhead lettuce is a full-sun plant and needs a minimum amount of 25,000 lux to grow production. The center hole in the lab, which receives the most amount of light, receives about 9,000 lux. One hole receives a mere 4,000 lux. We have to equally distribute the light and raise the light intensity. Joe suggested getting a diffuser so even the light, however, the diffuser limits the amount of light the plants will receive and so I believe it’s in our best interest to buy a new light. One that can hold more light bulbs and or hold bulbs with a higher wattage 

January 8, 2020- Growing Plants pt.2

The seeds we germinated right before leaving for break, unfortunately, shriveled up and died. When I came back on Jan. 6, all the water in the germination tray was dried up and the plants were gone. 17 days is too long to go without maintenance. The Kasa came was running but wasn’t pointed at the germination station so we don’t know at what point the water completely dried up. 

On the 6th I started a new set of butterhead lettuce. While Ximena created a new set, Jack and I worked to lower the grow light over the hydroponics lab. The plants need a more intense light because they were only getting a bare minimum amount. Jack drilled into the light frame and inserted two hooks. The light is now closer to the plants and will hopefully improve their growth.

December 16, 2019- Growing plants

The butterhead lettuce continues to thrive in the hydroponics system and so we’ve found our plant. The grow lights are a little too high and so the plants would probably grow more if the light was closer to the plants. I’ll have to move that when I get back from break.

figure 1: Butterhead lettuce Friday December 13

figure 2: Butterhead lettuce Monday December 16

On twitter, Helen Rosner (@hels) tweeted

‘If you’re a SCIENTIST or an ARTIST working on super interesting things related to food, cooking, or agriculture, and you’re like “why isn’t the national media paying attention to my groundbreaking work?” hello! it is me! I want to talk to you! Please reach out! Email in bio!’

The email was no longer in the bio but I did reply to the tweet and retweet it including a picture of our hydroponics lab. I hope to get the opportunity to talk to her because we might get a sponsor out of this.

December 11, 2019- Board meeting and nutrients of the hydroponics lab

WISRD had a board meeting Tuesday. Unfortunately, there weren’t enough board members present to vote on the meeting so we ended up having an official “talk” with the other WISRD members. We discussed that the “I Wish I Had This When I Was in High School” was good for the WISRD members because it allowed WISRD students to see what other members were doing with their projects. During the meeting, we mentioned inviting freshmen and sophomores to the board meeting next week just to see what’s it like. I thought it was a good idea to go up to the individual because it makes it less intimidating for the underclassmen and it shows the underclassmen that they are wanted on the board. I talked to Rainer and Dawson about coming down to the next board meeting and they seemed interested so hopefully, they’ll want to be a part of the board next year as official members.

I attended “I Wish I Had This When I Was in High School” night and it was fun because I saw the robot Reid was working on and I got to make a starting dent in a 3D printed object that needed to screw onto a metal pole. I helped another woman there and made sure she was doing it correctly to encourage her.

After school, I added plant nutrients to the system so the plants don’t die. I used Vega A and Vega B bottles of nutrients. I choose those two nutrient bases over the Bud A and Bud B because our experiment doesn’t involve the budding of the plants. Even though our plants can potentially bud, that’s not the purpose of our experiment; and so I decided to exempt the nutrients base for budding.

Image 1: Shows the amount of Vega A used in the system. *

*Later I realized the pipette holds 1ml instead of 3ml so I originally added 0.5ml twice, to make 1ml, instead of using a full pipette twice. I was also aiming for around 1ml in total per liter of water but only out in 1ml for 2L of water so later in the week I corrected myself, in two ways. 1) I wanted to actually put in 2ml per L of water so I did so. 2) I realized the pipettes were 1ml.

December 6-9, 2019- Update on Malabar and Butterhead

Last few days Ximena, Violet, and I have been working on an Archer Grant Proposal. We entered the hydroponics lab in the proposal in hopes of winning a grant to help continue the experiment. We submitted a research plan as well as a funding plan explaining what we’d use the grant for. We’ll get a response in January.

Unfortunately while doing the application for the Archer grant, the team paused the observations of the two plants. The spinach has pretty much died; one of the three is still shooting up, but it looks malnourished. The butterhead looks pretty good for not having any nutrients in the system.

Figure 1: Spinach plants after a few days in the hydroponics system (no nutrients added)

  Figure 2: Butterhead lettuce plants after a few days in the hydroponics system (no nutrients added)

December 4, 2019- Transplanting the plants

Ximena and I decided which of the germinated plants we wanted to transfer into the hydroponics lab. We choose to grow three root baskets of renegade spinach and three root baskets of butterhead lettuce, both using the small baskets. We set them in the hydroponics lab so we can observe how each plant reacts to being in a hydroponics setting. We’ll have to include nutrients so the plants are able to grow properly. We’ll have to determine the quantity later.

Figure 1: The germinated plants ready to be transferred to the hydroponics lab. Butterhead in the back and the spinach in the foreground.

4-6 seeds of the Renegade spinach went into the root basket and a small pinch of butterhead seeds went into its root baskets. The butterhead grew in a larger abundance because the extra seeds which went into the root basket. I actually believe the more seeds in the root basket would be beneficial. If there is plant mortality when transferring the plants, it’s better to have more sprouts per root basket so we’ll have some plants to observe.


How To… 

Summary: Some “How to” guides for useful things related to our lab
Journal Entries:
– December: How to find the amps used by our lab
– November: How to connect your phone to the grow lights
Open entries

 How to find the amps used by our lab

We have a lot of plugs plugged into one circuit. Today I learned how much energy our lab uses and how to find the number of amps. Joe says our circuits run 15 amps and that we need to find out how much our lab uses of that 15. The equation is W=IV. W is watts, I is the current and the V is the voltage. The WISRD areas use 110 voltages. If we know the wattage of the devices used in our lab then we can plug in numbers into the equation to find the amount of I, or current, we posses. We have 7 light bulbs each with a wattage of 24. The entire light system consumes 168 watts. We use 110 volts so the equations look like 168= 110 x I. Divide by 110 and I= 1.5 and change. So our light system takes up 1.5 of 15amps. We are running two pumps each at 30 watts. 60 watts for the two pumps divided by the 110 volts equals 0.5amps. In total, our lab takes up a little more than 2amps of 15. As we continue adding items to the lab, we’ll need to keep track of how many amps we are consuming form the circuit. 

How to connect your phone to the Grow lights

How to connect your phone to the Grow light socket at Wildwood

  1. Download the app Smart life
  2. Open the app and click add device
  3. follow the directions presented on the phone
    1. Turn on the smart plug
    2. hold the smart plug power button on until rapid flashing of blue light is seen
    3. Your phone needs to be on the WISRD Wifi: WISRD
      1. The socket requires 2.5h to work and not 5
    4. The pairing may take a few minutes to connect. Approx. 2 mins
  4. If the directions are followed correctly your phone should be paired with the socket and you should be able to turn on and off the light.
  5. Set a day and night timer


Busy November: November 5-20

Summary: The fourth poster night I attended turned out well. Quickly following poster night, the group wanted to do more research on possible plants to grow. Mid-November, I made a structure for what will become the “Germination Station.” Dark matter night was held at the end of the month and I was in charge of a fun exhibit – a cool video is in the dropdown.
Journal Entries:
– November 20: Dark Matter night
– November 12: Making the germination station
– November 8: Deciding more plants
– November 5: Poster night 4
Open entries

November 20, 2019- Dark matter night

Yesterday was dark matter night and I worked on the monkey in a tree station with fellow WISRD member Max. The physics of the monkey in the tree revolves around the law of gravity. The dart and the monkey are falling at the exact same speed even though the dart is projectile motion. The key to successfully landing the dart into the monkey is to have the two objects at the exact same hight. Fully pull back the dark to ensure it travels at a fast rate. 


November 12, 2019- Making the germination station

At home, I’ve been working on a separate construction project which will hold the germination tray. The design of the structure is to fit the right of the lab and be higher than the actual lab for easier observation purposes. The frame also has its own grow light which is positioned an inch or so from the dome of the germination tray to maximize the amount of light the seeds receive.

I began working on the construction of a second structure because the lab needs to move the germination station off of the hydroponics lab so we can run it. Ximena and I transferred the camera onto the other side of the hydroponics lab so it can view both the germination station and the hydroponics lab if needed.

November 8, 2019- Deciding more plants

The group is deciding what plants should be used in the next plant trial. We’ve decided to stick to either spinach or lettuce, so not moving from the two plant families. Jack has done research on buttercrunch lettuce and believes it can be a possible plant to grow. Based on the notes Jack wrote on the drive, buttercrunch or butterhead lettuce, takes 7-14 days to germinate. The time will be shortened because we are using a germination tray. It grows best with shade nearby. They have shallow root systems and need moist soil. Luckily they’ll have a very moist environment. The buttercrunch seeds germinate best in 40F to 85F degrees, which is a surprisingly large range.

I’ve done some research on renegade spinach, also known as F1 Spinach. The spinach requires full sun and the roots are sensitive to soil pH and prefer range from 6.5-7.  Magnesium deficiency yields yellow pigment in the leaves like those of nitrogen deficiency. And the leafy greens prefer fertile, well-drained soil. I’m ordering other seeds like butterfly spinach, red leaf lettuce, salad bowl seeds.

November 5, 2019 -Poster night 4

November 4 was the fifth poster night I’ve attended and the hydroponics had solid material to showcase. We brought down a tube, the germination trey, Will’s salinity/ humidity/ and temperature reader. He hooked up the salinity sensor to the Arduino and showed the live reading of the probe. Nicholas showed the website screen he’d been working on. The hydroponics was a successful project because of the positive feedback and the level of interest everyone expressed afterward. Hopefully, people will be more invested in our lab.


Little Gem and Malabar Spinach experiment: October 2 – 23

Summary: I did some research on Malabar Spinach and the Information I found is listed in my journal entry for that day. The Malabar and little gem experiment was to decide which of the two would do best in a hydroponics setting. I provided the team with an educational youtube video on how to maintain the temperature of the germination tray. Germination then begins.
Journal Entries:
– October 21 – 23: Germination begins
– October 15: Thermometer and thermostat
– October 13: Malabar and little gem experiment
– October 2: Looking into Malabar spinach
Open entries

October 21-23, 2019- Germination begins

The last week has been a productive week for the hydroponics lab. On Monday Violet and I worked on setting up the germination tray with the green starter plugs. At the end of the period, it was determined that we need to soak the plugs in slightly acidic water so even out the basic-ness in the plug. The following day, on Tuesday, Violet and I soaked the plugs in lemon water for 30 so minutes and transferred them into the enclosed germination tray. The tray was filled with water enough so the plugs were half submerged. Malabar seeds were placed in the plugs on the left and little gem on the right. The temperature was set at 81 degrees Fahrenheit because the plants germinate best at 10-15 degrees higher than room temp. The Push Sensor was set up and Violet and I are able to view the humidity and temperature of the lab.

Edit: Unfortunately due to conferences and a fire at the time, We didn’t get to observe the germination of the seeds and so we’ve decided to run the experiment again. Jack and Violet are researching another lettuce ot use instead of Little Gem Lettuce. The problem with Little Gem was that it didn’t have enough scientific background. It was only known as a homegrown/ backyard lettuce and didn’t have sufficient studies done on the plant

October 15, 2019- Youtube video for thermometer and thermostat

Over the weekend I assigned the members a youtube video to watch on the use of the germination tray. Link to video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gre7_YxoJhE

In the video, the tray was covered by a cloth. We are going to NOT do the same because the heat is going to be regulated by the heating pad and the thermostat. The thermostat brings me to my second topic of discussion. I’ve invested in a thermometer probe that will sit inside the tray through a drilled hole in the clear plastic dome. The thermometer is an old fashion probe, but at the same time, we will have a smart thermometer on the inside of the dome called a Sensor Push. The sensor collects the humidity and temperature of the surrounding area, or in our case, the environment.

October 13, 2019- Malabar and Little gem experiment

After a long week of discussion, Ximena, Violet, and I discussed what plant we are going to use for our lab. Even though Ximena and I agreed on Malabar spinach, there were some good points to using little gem lettuce. After further thought, I decided to create an experiment to test which of the two we are going to use. The reason I want to create an experiment out of this is that the plant we choose to grow is such a vital part of our experiment, I want to make sure we decided on the best plant to grow. I don’t want to be halfway through our experiment and find out we should have chosen another plant over the other.  Last week I ordered a germination tub and a heating pad:

1. The tub will speed up the germination time of both plants

2. The enclosed dome will allow for most if not all variable to be controlled.

Thermometers and a thermostat have been ordered so we, as a group, are able to monitor the temperature of the environment inside the dome. The hope is to find out which plant will germinate and grow the fastest. Timing is a crucial part of this lab as well because we might need to do several experiments in order to get results we want, and if we only have so many weeks in a school year and the plants wake 2 weeks to germinate, it wouldn’t leave much time for the experiment itself. If we are able to cut germination time in half, the experiment would be able to last longer or allow more experiments to take place in a school year.

I personally still believe Malabar is better to use in our experiment because it’s easier to observe and note changes between the plants growing in the 3 different grow tubes. Because Malabar is a vine, outward growth and hight will provide crucial observational points in our experiment. Lettuce doesn’t produce the same results. A head of lettuce is a lot harder to see notable changes. I also see where having too many observational points could be a drawback. The next week will be preparing the germination tray for the seedlings.

October 2, 2019- Looking into Malabar Spinach

In the last week, Ximena and I decided to switch to Malabar spinach because it’s produced more in the central valley. Below is some information on the Malabar spinach linked with the source.

Edit: The group also began looking into growing Little gem lettuce and some information about the plant follows:

  • Hardiness: No zone is given, but fairly heat resistant, matures faster in heat though.

  • Soil temp: 40-75 F

  • Ideal temp: 60-70 F

  • Planting depth: ⅛-¼”

  • Germination: 7-14 days

  • Height at maturity: 4-6”

  • Days to maturity: 45-80 days

  • Sun: Full sun, 5 or more  hours daily

  • Water Ph: 6.0-7.5

  • Hydroponic Soil: Clay is good but nitrogen supplements are usually necessary

  • Minimum germination %:80%

  • Fertilizer: Unnecessary, it can be helpful when used very sparingly but it’s iffy based on soil comp. so we don’t need it

  • Pest and disease control: Aphids and slugs are the main killers so we don’t have to worry

  • Climate: Sources said something like Ireland, a lot of moisture and pretty damp soil

And some more information on Malabar spinach:

  • Hardy to zone 10?
  • Can withstand heat
  • Family Basellaceae
    • Indian spinach, Ceylon spinach, vine spinach, climbing spinach
  • Grow up to 10 feet long, but usually remains smaller
  • Leaves have a mucilaginous texture
  • Grow in full sun
    • Hot weather
  • Consistent moisture
  • Trellis
  • Seeds germinate in 10 days to 3 weeks
    • Scarification to open tough seed coats hastens germination
    • Also soak them 
  • Germination temperature 65 F – 75 F
  • Temperature above 80 F
  • pH 6.5-6.8
  • climbing/vine
  • Leaps when mercury hits 90F?
  • 4 trellised plants will occupy a space of 18 inches square

Getting Back in the Flow: August 20 – September 9

Journal Entries:
– September 9: Information detailing the experiment as of now
– September 6: Progress
– August 30: Getting started again and new members 
– August 20: Three Consecutive years 
Open entries

 Information detailing the experiment: as of September 9, 2019

Today, Ximena and I sat down and went over some crucial information regarding the experiment we are going to do with the lab:

Note: The details listed below are subject to change as we modify our procedure and gain more tools for collecting data.

  • The germinating plants will have 2 weeks in the hydroponics lab to homeostasis before we begin adding salt.
  • The tubes are going to have the following salinities:
    • Tube 3: Highest salinity- Ocean → 0.600 M (35 ppt)
    • Tube 2: Tolerable salinity- San Joaquin → 0.025 M (1.5 ppt)
    • Tube 1: Control tube -Freshwater → 0.000 M (0 ppt)
  • We’ll watch the growth of algae in the tube and in the overall system. The current should be strong enough that algae won’t develop.
    • If we use distilled water it will minimize the chances of developing algae.
  • We plan on using sodium phosphate in the nutrients because it contains some level of salt which will be used to help monitor the salinity of the lab.

Edit: The plan we were drawing up together was seen as too disorganized. I believe the procedure for the lab should be drawn together in “layers”. The first layer would be the basic experiment itself: “what plants are we using?” “How long are we running for” Getting together the necessary information and equipment needed to begin the lab process. The second layer in the procedure will focus on laboratory details: “what’s the water level” “What nutrient is going into the lab” “root baskets need to be made!” The second layer will hopefully contain information regarding the details of the experiment. And the third layer will have specific questions regarding the experiment: “what’s considered dead plants?” “How are we ensuring the exact nutrient are being replenished after each day or week?” “How often do we replenish the nutrient and water?” There are lots more of these layer three questions that need to be addressed, but I believe the group needs to come to a consensus about the first two layers before we are able to tackle the third (and hopefully final) layer of the procedure.

September 6, 2019- Progress

This week in WISRD, the group has been diligently working to complete the lab’s construction. This year the team decided to use homemade brackets to mount the grow tubes to the lab. Jack has been drilling into the lab structure while Violet has been compiling a list of new supplies for the lab. Ximena and I are working to write a procedure for the school year. Nicholas has been teaching WIll (2023) how to use the salinity sensor and setting as well as Arduino. Nicholas has been setting up the hydroponics website.

August 30, 2019- Getting started again and new members

With the lab quickly cleaned and polished, the group has to decide the details of the experiment. Ximena and I are going to spend the next class discussing what we are looking for in our lab while Jack finishes drilling the hose claps and Violet researches more about clay pellets. Violet is one of the newest members of the hydroponics lab along with freshmen Will and Axil. Violet will be assisting me in my research of spinach while Axil and Will assist Nicholas with Arduino. Violet and I began looking for a way to plant the spinach in the root baskets without using coconut husk because of the stored nutrients in the husk. We decided to look into using clay pellets or pebbles. Here is the link we decided to look at. https://university.upstartfarmers.com/blog/pros-cons-hydroton-hydroponics 

August 20, 2019 – 3 consecutive years

Third-year the charm! We are back with another year at WISRD and I am very excited to get to work. The hydroponics team is spread out over 3 classes now so we have the advantage of 3 class periods. The first objective is to set the lab back up. Jack had deconstructed the lab for storage over summer, now we have to get it back up. Over the summer, Ximena germinated some spinach seeds and we are looking forward to growing some plants.

—Sophomore Year—


The Month of April, 2019- Our hydroponics lab

April 24, 2019- month of April

The entire month has been constant work for both groups. In the past few weeks, Jack and I have been drilling and constructing the frame and valve systems. Over the summer we plan to germinate some spinach seeds.

Figure 1: Below shows the first grow tube and valve system set up on the 18th.

Figure 1

Figure 2: Below is the complete system (minus the grow tube caps that need to be reprinted to fit) set up on the 24.

Figure 2


March 11, 2019- First frame of  lab

Over the weekend I worked on the scale drawing and built the front part of the frame of our lab ( figure 1). Jack and I have made a materials list of the parts needed to construct the rest of our lab (figure 2).

March 6-7, 2019- Grey mat cleaning

Over the long weekend, I started working on a scale drawing of the lab. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it because I didn’t bring back the PVC prototype. Jack and I have dismantled the grey mat covering the wooden box in order to clean it. We plan to cut the mat in order for it to fit the wooden box better.


New lab new stuff

February 27, 2019- Final lab design

This week Jack and I have come to an agreement on the design of the future lab. Image 1 shows a prototype of the valve system we are going to use in our lab, image 2 shows the lab set up incorporating the new valve system. The system is going to be connected to the PVC frame by hose clamps drilled through the support PVC. I’m working on creating a scale model of image 2 so we can see if the prototype’s measurement fit in the 36″ of space given by the wooden tray we are trying to stay in.

Image 1: PVC prototype, middle elbow piece would be connected to the pump and the right elbow piece is the return valve to the reservoir. With this set up the flow of water entering the grow tube can be adjusted and regulated. Due to the power of the pumps we are using, the return value will be left mostly open. The valve on the left, featured in the picture, will not be used often.

Image 2: Lab set up. I’m going to make a scale drawing and hopefully the plan will work out.

February 20, 2019- New tubing

Today Jack and I went down to the hydroponics lab and tested a new tubing I bought to replace the black poly tubing. The tubing is a lot more flexible and is actually clear, now we can see the water flowing through the lab; although the clear part of the tubing is not necessary, the more flexible tubing will allow for a sharper turn change in water flow from the valve to the grow tubes.

February 7, 2019- Past valve system

I believe I have a way to solve the siphoning problem in our lab. I want to bring back one of the previous valve designs which involved two valves; at the time we didn’t have a second valve, but now we have a second valve and can revert back to a previous design. The system solves the siphoning problem because it doesn’t create a vacuum when it runs; the water pumped to the “split” portion of the lab forces water to go in two directions: the direction of the grow tubes and the direction of the reservoir. Today, Jack started printing two more caps for the lab, one for the grow tube, and another for the PVC pipe.

Jack and I will continue to design a new lab layout, but at the same time, Ximena and I will work to get our lab running. We are going to start growing plants and gathering data, but we know that we will have to make a lab more efficient and better. For now, we’ll grow in the current lab we have, but we will design the future lab at the same time. (All three sentences basically say the same thing)

February 4, 2019- New Lab proposal

Today is WISRD, Jack and I have come to the conclusion that the current lab is a temporary design and we can greatly improve the efficiency of our lab and decrease the risk of an error if we change the lab structure significantly. Jack is currently sketching a new lab design. The grow tubes will be incorporated into the frame of the lab, several valves will be used to restrict and control the flow of water as well as the direction of the water. By next week our lab design should be done.


New Lab designs, siphoning and sockets

January  30, 2019-  Designs by Ximena and Nicholas

Today Jack and I reviewed a diagram made by Ximena. Her diagram includes the small R resting on the second frame of the lab. Her plan differs from our plan because she attaches the second frame by a four-way elbow PVC pipe; so, intern, the lab is one big frame instead of the mainframe and the smaller frame set on top. Jack proposed that we make the length of the second frame smaller so we don’t have to build it all the way across the lab. A smaller length would allow a reservoir to sit right in the frame so all four sides are touching the frame.


January  28, 2019- New Lab design

Today in class Jack and I sketched another design for our lab. The sketch includes a 3D clip which “snaps” onto the mainframe connecting an additional portion of the lab potioned above the original lab. Jack and I believe we can go with the design because we could use a design from the stabilizers Jack made at the beginning of the year. Adding the “new stabilizers” would be easier than remaking the entire lab to accommodate the extra frame. The only problem we face is our lab potentially not being strong enough to support the extra weight of the reservoir. There is another idea which we could potentially use which is completely redesigning the frame and integrate the water pump/system into the frame.

In the diagram are the clips jack and I were thinking of. They would snap the bottom frame to the smaller frame above it.

January  24, 2019- Siphoning dilemma

Today in class Jack and I sketched a design for our lab. The sketch includes an additional reservoir settles at the top of our lab. The addition reservoir is to help solve a siphoning problem our lab has. The siphoning problem is when a vacuum is created and the water is pushed to the less dense area of our valve system. The water cannot enter the grow tube side because the vacuum occurs in the part leading to the reservoir and so water can only flow in the direction of the reservoir. We have to solve the siphoning problem else our lab will never be able to fully function the way it is intended to run. To solve the siphoning problem, Joe recommended adding another reservoir which serves as a place for the water to travel and collect but not to create a siphoning effect. The smaller reservoir (small R) has 3 different tubes connecting to it which serve different functions. The first tube connected the small R is connected to the pump and will provide the water used in the lab. A second tube will be the tube which leads to the grow tubes. There will be a valve between the small R and the grow tube which will allow us to control the water flow. The last tube coming from the small R will be the tube leading back to the main reservoir. Jack had the idea of creating a second frame, slightly smaller than the original, set on top of the original frame. The new frame would allow the small R to be set above the grow tube while allowing the grow tube to stay where it is.

The diagram to the left is a sketch of the small R above the grow tube.

January  16, 2019- Smart sockets

Today is the first day I have seen the new smart sockets introduced to the hydroponics lab. The smart sockets produced by Gosund is a socket which allows the user to control the output electricity with their phone. We are going to set up the lab by using smart sockets to control the pump and lights. The light of the lab can be turned on and off from our phones; a timer can also be set up to simulate night and day for the plants in our lab. The sockets can also be used as a safe house; if the system were to malfunction, the smart socket is used to shut off the pump and stop the flow of water into the system.

So far, while setting up the system, the problem is the smart socket cannot connect to an apple phone. All four members have apple phones so nobody would be apple to control the smart sockets.


Caps caps caps and valve trails

January  10, 2019- Valve trials

Trail number 

Variation in system



No modification 

No water entered- Jack assumes the hose clamp constricted the flow of water


Took off elbow piece and leveled the black tube as it was coiled

water flowed into the grow tube slightly


switched cap so the input cap is now the output cap

Water now flowed into the grow tube

Water would not exit so the growtube overflowed


Removed hose clamp on both caps

Water overflowed the grow tubes but at a slower rate


Turned value roughly 45 degrees

Water could entire the grown tube at a seemingly adequate rate (not too slow not too fast) and did not overflow after roughly 2 minutes of running


Turned valve almost at every angle ( sorry this is not scientific)

Water would entire tube when the valve was turned more than 20 degrees from closed (very slowly but still consistent) and would not overflow anytime between roughly 75 degrees

January  9, 2019- more work on caps

This week Jack designed a cap slightly smaller than our current cap so we can connect it to the elbow PVC pipe which has a slightly smaller radius. After Jack printed the new cap, the group found the cap he printed was too big and so Ximena and Nicholas took it upon themselves to reprint an accurate cap. The dimensions of the new cap are as followed:     And the name of the file is called:    The cap they printed was, again, too big for the elbow PVC pipe; however, the most recently printed cap fits very well on the regular white pipe (charlotte pipe). We now plan to produce more of these caps and replace the current ones on the white pipe.

December  5, 2018- PVC melting glue

Today Jack and I are testing out Christy’s PVC Glue. Joe recommended us to use PVC glue which “melts” the Pvc pipe and other plastics. We were testing the glue to see if the PVC pipe and the 3D caps can melt and bind together. The glue is able to adhere to the PVC pipe and the 3D printed rectangle. We will be able to use glue in the hydroponics lab.

Edit: We decided not to use the glue for enviromental purposes

The figure to the left shows a 3D printed rectangle adhered to a piece of PVC pipe using the glue. 

December 3, 2018- mini cap for the flexible tubing

Last week Jack created another mini cap to connect the flexible black tubing to the white PVC pipe in the Y valve system. Unfortunately, the cap wouldn’t fit. We’ve been noticing that our caps have not been fitting properly for the past few months. Jack and I decided to get to the bottom of this problem. We 3D printed a rectangle to see if the print had the accurate measurements used.

  Height mm Width mm Length mm
Extended 1 2.39 10.66 20.46
Extended 2 2.39 10.44 20.46

November 29, 2018- Tinkercad

Today I started using Tinkercad. I’m just learning the basics, but I wanted to learn how to use Tinkercade because I felt like I needed to know how to make 3D models for the lab. Jack is teaching me how to use the program because he has previous experience with the software. So far I’m the only hydroponics member who doesn’t know how to 3D print and design 3D models. I took it upon myself to catch up with the other members and learn how to 3D print.

November 26, 2018- Y valve system

Today Jack and I  tested the Y valve in our system to see if the water pressure was weakened. I’ve concluded the system needs another valve in order to adjust the water pressure. So far we have a valve on the right side which leads to a clear tube where we hold the plants. Our plan was to have the valve control the water pressure leading into the tub. On the left side of the Y system, we have the excess water running out back into the reservoir. After running the lab I realized most of the water was running out on the left side, back into the reservoir. My thoughts were to add another valve on the left side to restrict the amount of water flowing back into the reservoir. Doing so will allow more water to be pumped out on the other side where the water is needed.


Poster night and Basil work

November 15, 2018- RIP Basil

So Jack and I checked on the basil to check how they are adjusting to being exposed to a complete hydro environment. When we arrived the plants had wilted and some were completely dead. It had only been 3 days since uprooting the plants when we all started seeing signs of wilting. We had given the plants the right amount of nutrients, but I guess the plants couldn’t handle being changed to a different environment in the given window of time. Our new plan is to germinate the plants so the sprouts are already used to being in a hydro environment.

November 8, 2018- Basil roots

Today Jack and I have taken one of our basil plants and extracted the roots and plant from the soil. My plan is to allow the plants to get used to being in the water every second. We are going to keep them down by the hydroponics lab so they can get used to being under the grow light. When the basil plants recover from the shock of transfer, we will place them in the root baskets in the lab. *Ximena and Nicholas gave the plants nutrients.

November 5, 2018- Poster night #2

Yesterday was our first WISRD poster night in the new school year. Since the last poster night, we haven’t made much progress on the lab itself, but we have been able to refine the little details of the lab. We have made the nozzles on the caps which solves the problem about the open system which we didn’t know how to solve last year. Poster night was really fun because everyone seemed to be really interested in our lab. People asked questions, gave us feedback, and even gave recommendations. I’m really proud of what we have accomplished this year. I feel like we did the right thing to perfect the caps instead of starting the lab with defected caps.


Lab redesign part 1: Finding our place

October 20-31, 2018- Flaw in cap design

As we approach the date of starting our lab, we have found a flaw in our cap design. Because the nozzle of the cap is not centered, the area in the center became weak and thinned because of the moved material from the center to the side of the cap. We thickened the top by 0.10mm and we reprinted all 4 caps.

Jack and I have made homemade root baskets using regular plastic mesh and inserted them into the two tubes. The plan is to take the basil (already germinated and grown) and extract the plant from the soil; then place the plant in the root baskets and fill our tube with water (without salt). The reason why we don’t want to introduce salt to the plants right away is that we want to make sure the plants get used to being in a hydroponics setting.

October 15, 2018- New method

Ximena and Nicholas have decided to not include stabilizers to make the process of starting the lab easier; Instead, of the lab will be suspended by ropes and will hang parallel to the ground instead of at an angle. The figure to the left is the plan for the suspending tubes.

The concern I have is the fact we have to include another tube and the figure only shows one in place. Where is the other tube going to hang? A single tube needs the support of both sides of the PVC pipe; another pipe could not possibly fit in the lab. If we try and stack the tubes on top of each other, the top tube would have more sunlight than the lower tube rendering the experiment ineffective. Another concern is the danger of using rope instead of a more perminant set up. Over time, roap will frey and resetting the rope would prove to be challenging.

August 29, 2018- optimal angle

Today Jack and I took some measurements and found the optimal angle we want our tubes to stand at. In the photo below we have the calculations for the angle of the tube. The angle is 0.01989 degrees. With the angle known we can find the desired height of the tube off ground level. We have decided to try and raise the small end of the tube to 0.7195 in or 18.2753cm.


August 27, 2018- Potential layouts

Today Jack and I drew a potential layout for the hydroponics lab.  The following photo is the first idea we had. Our tube at some given angle is then connected to a 90-degree angle PVC pipe, which then leads through a plastic tube which feeds into the reservoir. In the reservoir, the pump will pump the water into a plastic tube which then leads back to the start of the tube. The lab would have the second and possibly a third tube lined ip parallel to the one stationed in the picture.

Figure 1: First idea of what our new lab should look like. Dran on the white board of the WISRD lab.


Figure 2 is our plan for the same system, but with a small modification to the watering process. The only difference is the water would be fed from the pump to another reservoir. The reservoir fills and then uses gravity to trickle water into the tube. This would allow a slow but constant amount of water to be introduced to the plants at one time. However, the method of hanging or setting the additional reservoir above the lab has complications. The weight of the reservoir, once filled with water, might be too great for cables and would be too unstable. Another structure would have to be contructed inorder to rest the reservoir.


These are only some ideas; hopefully, the hydroponics team can meet up soon to go over our plans and to refine the layout.


New Project update/Recap

August 23, 2018- drawing up a blueprint

Today I took Jack down to the hydroponics lab so he can get to know the lab and what our project is about. In the next class, we need to determine the layout of the lab and how the lab will function. We will draw up a blueprint of the lab when the layout is determined. Next class, we will research different plants to use this year in the lab. We will research the absorption of photons the plant needs.

August 22, 2018-Getting back into the hydroponics

After giving it some thought, I’ve decided NOT to bring a new project to WISRD. The reason for this is because I do not feel ready to start a new project from scratch. I haven’t done WISRD for very long and if I’m being honest, I haven’t been putting mine all into everything I have done in the class. I don’t know what is required to start a new lab and I feel that I should have done more research over the summer if I was going to start a new project in the fall. I need to mentally grow more as a scientist before taking on a new project. The project I had in mind is too ambitious for me at this moment, but in the future, I do hope to start a new project in the field of marine biology, but for now, I will be continuing the hydroponics lab. Hopefully, I learn new skills this year in the hydroponics lab which could benefit me and help guide me in making a new project.

August 20, 2018- New project?

Back again with a new year of WISRD activities. This year in WISRD I plan on trying to start a new project this year. This new project is based on the sustainability portion of the hydroponics, but this project uses coral instead of beans and sprouts. Joe brought up a really good point when talking with me, he mentioned the amount of time and money that had already gone into the hydroponics lab. But my goal this year is to either find new members to take over the lab, or to work on the hydroponics lab at the same time as the new lab.

—Freshman Year—


Ideas for a new lab and cap plan

May 21, 2018- Made some caps!

After about a month, we have successfully created the caps for the hydroponics lab. We worked with the 3D printing team (CAD) and created two 3D printed caps for our first pipe. We then put sealant around the perimeter of the caps. We tested the caps with water and they work well. No leaks were present and we took the water-filled tube and showcased it at our second poster night. Poster night was a big success. Many people came to our station and asked us great questions about our lab.

May 14, 2018- Drilling

Today, Ximena Dani and I drilled the holes in the tubes. There are three per tube. They’re each one inch in diameter and evenly spaced. We are going to put mesh netting inside the holes so the seed can rest int he water but not be swept away by the current.

Joe had drilled the first 2 holes and he wanted one of the lab members to try to drill into the plastic. I tried to drill into the plastic and I had accidentally cracked the tube as I was drilling.  Now there is a small crack on the top of the pipe. I sealed the crack with some sealant so hopefully, the crack doesn’t expand. Once we had drilled, I sanded down the holes and got the plastic out of the tube, and Ximena created the drill centers and drilled into the new pipe. Now we have both tubes drilled and ready for the last set of caps!!!

April 24, 2018- Cap plan

This week Dani, Ximena and I tested the “cap” for the irrigation system for the hydroponics lab. We decided to make one side higher, so less water flows in, and the other side lowers so that more water flows out and into the used water reservoir. We will receive help from the CAD team, Justin, Emile, and Tanner, who will 3D print the caps for the tubes. Eventually it would be benificial for the hydroponics members to learn how to 3D print ourselves.


March 16, 2018- Items for new lab

Below is the list of items we need for the new lab we are going to build. The list was formed by our other hydroponics member Dani.




D= Diameter

Z= Depth




Clear piping

39” L, 3” D


Plastic tray

39” L, 38” W, 3” Z


Reservoir tank

9.5” L, 19.5” W, 20” Z


Structural tubing

38” L


Structural tubing 

28” L


Structural tubing

39” L


Elbow connectors 

TBD, circumference uniform with structural tubing circumference



Spectrometer and Direct current

March 12-13, 2018- Direct current

Yesterday Ximena and I used a DC (direct current) power supply to test the amps of a 3.o Molar solution of NaCl. Today, Joe explained the seven fundamental laws of physics to Ximena Dani and me. This helps because we were able to identify how amps are related to the fundamental laws of physics. Amps are shown by Δq/Δt, (delta charge delta time). When using the DC power supply, our probes became clogged and eventually corroded by the salt being attracted by the negatively charged probe. The negative probe attracted sodium, which is positively charged, and the positively charged probe attracted chlorine, which is negatively charged. Since this clogging is causing the corrosion, we had to think of a way to counteract the clogging.

February 27, 2018- Calibration curve done

Today we finally finished our calibration curve using copper 2 sulfates. We used the 0.20, 0.14, 0.08 mol solutions. We used the PASCO Spectrometer to identify and create a calibration curve. Our calibration curve looked great! Our absorbance rate had a steady increase as we increased the concentration of copper 2 sulfate. Next, I made an unknown concentration of copper 2 sulfate in the lab, I knew it had a concentration of 0.17, but Ximena did not. She placed the cuvette of this ‘unknown’ solution into the Spectrometer and turned it on. The spectrometer gave her an absorption reading of 0.41 (shown at the bottom left-hand corner.) Using the calibration curve, which is the straight horizontal line running through the graph, Ximena was able to approximate the exact concentration of the ‘unknown’ solution. She guessed 0.168 mols. The software that we used gave Ximena a green dot where she approximated the consecration because she had a very good approximation. The software would have given her an orange square if she was any further away.

With all this discovered, Ximena and I are hoping to make a calibration curve like the one below using NaCl instead of copper 2 sulfate. If we have a calibration curve like this using NaCl, we could determine the concentration of our water used in the hydroponics lab!

February 12-13, 2018- Beer’s law by Cider House T.V

We were unable to find the results we wanted from the NaCl samples. In order to find out whether or not our spectrometer is working properly, we decided to go back to using copper sulfate. There is a youtube video on Beer’s law posted by Cider House Television. The people in the video use Beer’s law to find the absorption of several concentrations. Ximena and I want to recreate the exact execution as the people in the video. We should have the same readings and the same data, if we don’t there could be a possibility that something is wrong with our spectrometer.

Like in the video, we are using 0.20, 0.14, and 0.08. We are making the solution out of 50ml of water.

1 mole 0.2 moles 0.14 moles 0.08
1 L 50mL 50mL 50mL
159.6086 grams. 1.595g 1.115g 0.640g

Click here for the youtube video that we are following along with

February 5, 2018- spread sheet

In WISRD, Dani and I created a spreadsheet for the data Ximena found. We used Excel spreadsheets. We plugged in our solutions in column A and the absorptions into the B column. We insert a scatter plot and the program plots the given solutions. Unfortunately, the graph we had did not show the information we expected. Our graph should be in a horizontal line going upward from left to right. Instead, our plots are all over the place and unorganized. Next WISRD class I hope to redo the spectrometer and find expected results from the absorption.

February 2, 2018-Spectrometer data

Today in WISRD Ximena and I  finished taking the absorptions from the spectrometer. When we looked over the data we realized that the absorption of the NaCl was out of order. When I mean out of order I mean the 2.7 solutions had a higher absorption rate than 3.0 solution.


January 15, 2018- Deconstruction of the lab

Ximena and I have been working to deconstruct the hydroponics lab while Dani continues to get in touch with Jesse Brand (Jesseb20@wildwood.org). Dani has created a layout of the hydroponics lab 2.0. Jesse has agreed to help to make a robotic Arduino lighting system. The following are the current items that we have down in the lab:





Blue buckets



Tank with lid



PVC frame

Sunblaze fluorescent light











Green pods



Liter measuring cup

Two liter measuring cups



Sungrip pulley system

Eco 296 aqua pumps




Meter ruler



Floraflex with 5 clips to hold the tubing 




Plants and Their Death: October 23 – December 11

Summary: Ximena and I began growing bean sprouts and we began to transfer them into the hydroponics lab. We had our first poster night of the school year and we were excited to show our growing beans. After a week of transferring the sprouts, we noticed some mold growing around the area of the plant! And then they died… read more in the drop-down link labeled “open entries
Journal entries: 
– December 11: Dying plants
– December 5: Molar solutions
– November 17: Mold
– November 13: Poster night 1
– October 23: Bean Seeds
Open entries

December 11, 2017-Dying plants

We have made our o.3, 0.7, 1.0,  and 1.3 solutions already. We are waiting for our next shipment of NaCl. We are planning to reconstruct the hydroponics lab. When I last checked on our plants last week, I found that one of the plants have contracted the mold that had spread over the roots. A thought that occurred to me was maybe we could put the dead leaves through the spectrometer and see what elements are inside our plants. We won’t be able to complete that this year because we need more planning time than what we have. We are preparing to leave for our winter vacation and I don’t think that the plants will survive the two weeks. I wanted to take a sample of the dead plant, the molding plant, and our healthy plant.

December 5, 2017- Molar solutions 

This week, Joe has us making nine molar solutions using the chemical compounds NaCl also know as table salt. NaCl has an atomic mass of 58.5 per liter. We decided to find the molarity of 100 ml instead of 1000 (1 liter.) The nine molar solutions we are making are 0.5, 0.7, 1.0, 1.3, 1.7 2.0, 2.3 2.7, and 3.0. We made three of the nine solutions and are continuing to make them.

November 17, 2017-Mold!

Today when we went and checked on the plants and we went downstairs to find that our plants started getting moldy. Both Ximena and I were fearful of the plants, but Joe found the mold fascinating. We have to find out why this occurred. The most logical solution is too much water; the plants were given too much water and so mold started to form. At the exact same time, Dani has joined the hydroponics team! We are so thankful that she joined at our time of need.

November 13, 2017- Poster night 1

Last week was poster night. We made an amazing poster that showcased what we have accomplished so far in the hydroponics lab. Our bean plant grew tremendously since the last time, three weeks ago. We also found two new beans growing. Now that we have more beans growing, we are currently learning how to use a spectrometer so that we can see all the ions in the nutrients we use.

October 23, 2017- Bean seeds

Its been a while since I last updated this but I am back! In hydroponics this week we had put some bean seeds in water so that they could sprout their roots. After they sprout their roots we will transfer them to the green cubes. That was last week, this week the beans had sprouted their roots! 3 of the 5 have already sprouted. We transferred them to the green cubes and then submerged the green cubes in water. I am so excited to see where this project will take us!


The Beginning: August 23 – October 2

Summary: The first few months in WISRD begins here. I needed to choose a project to work on for the year. After choosing, I set a meeting with the previous members to try and find out the project details. I was the only member in the project until I was joined by another classmate. 
Journal Entries:
– October 2: XIMENA
– September 15: Meeting with the old Hydroponics 
– September 8: What project?
– August 28: First journal 
Open entries

October 6, 2017- XIMENA

So this week the hydroponics team gained another member! Ximena joined me in my research and project. This week we did actually work with the hydroponics lab. We cleaned the tank which really, needed cleaning. We also made sure that the filter and pump still works. It did, But the pump hose came off and water went everywhere. We need to tape the hose to the pump so that they don’t disconnect again. Next week I hope that we can plant some seeds and get started the actual growth of a plant.

September 15, 2017- Meeting with the old Hydroponics 

Earlier today during advisory I spoke with the formal members of the hydroponics lab. I wanted to ask them about the lab because I didn’t exactly know what they did last year and because I’ve been having a block in my research. I had no idea what plants to use, what the green fluffy cubes were, or what the irrigation system was like. Luckily they told me everything they knew about the lab. They were very helpful, they told me some cites they used to find their information, they also told me a great website call Jstor which contains articles about almost anything you want to know! In this class, I searched up Jstor and found some very useful articles about the San Joaquin Valley. During class, I also visited the hydroponics lab to see what work had to be done. I found that the water in the reservoir was very dirty and that next time I’d need to clean it out. Hopefully, I move forward from this point on and start getting plants in the lab. Wish me luck!

September 8, 2017-What project?

Hello, I have come to a conclusion on which project to join; with much thought, I have decided to work on the hydroponics project! When I first looked into it, I saw that much had to be done, but with a little convincing from Joe, I have decided to take on the project. I hope that I can make the project more intriguing to others, and hope they learn more about agriculture from the hydroponics lab. There is a lot to do in this project, but I believe I am up for the task.

The project is going to geared towards the San Joaquin Salinity Crises. The San Joaquin Valley grows a third of the country’s crops and is relied on by almost everyone in the country. The problem is the water being used by the plants in the valley is salty.

August 28, 2017- First journal

Hi there, I’m Sadie and I’m new here at Wildwood. I joined the WISRD community not too long ago. It’s my third day of WISRD class and I’m still a little confused with what I really want to do. I don’t know if I want to join an ongoing project or try my best at starting a new one. My problem with starting a new project is where to start; what can I bring to offer that people would be interested in and would want to work on all year? I also don’t know if  I should join another project, the helium balloon project seems fascinating swell as the seismometer project. Hopefully, everything becomes more clear to me soon.