It's been a very long time since our last post, so lets get caught up to speed. We interviewed the the co-creator of a product currently being used in space to grow plants, her name is Dr. Gioia Massa. She provided a ton of useful information towards our project, and has been supporting us for a while now. We are wrapping our project up and making finishing touches before the ExpoFest. At the moment we are building the prototype and making some final edits to the presentation we'll be doing at the Expo. Wish us luck, and we'll see you at Expo on May 20th.
We are back from spring break and already have things to report on. We recently went to the Palace Theater in Waterbury, Connecticut to pitch a rough draft of our project. We got a ton of useful feedback from the audience. They seem to really amazed that we have connections to NASA, but didn't like how we had so much going on in the presentation. They said it was hard to follow because we had a lot of parts to our experiment. We plan to finalize our idea by May 1st, and present at the ExpoFest later that month. We are coming very close to the climax of our work. We will continue to post until the expo is over. Stay tuned.
We're about to leave for spring break, which means we'll have to put a halt on the majority of our experiment. We will return on the 18th of April. Of course we can't leave the plants unattended, so we will give a student the task of taking care of the plants over break. We hope you all have a great week! Until next time.
It's been a while since the last blog post, and I thought it was time to update you guys. We contacted a mentor from NASA, Morgan Simpson, and asked for her thoughts on the project. She was very helpful and we are looking to set up a real time interview in the near future. At the moment we are extracting the fast growing plants from our experiment and looking at the roots. As for the spinach and radishes, they are growing steadily, making great progress. The plants in the 10 second light had recently died off, so we concluded the 10 second light will not be better for the plants growth. We just started planning a documentary for our project, this will be started very soon. That is where we are at the moment, and we will continue to update this page.
We came back after a long weekend and were checking on our plants, we saw that the rest of the plants had died from lack of water. Our absence due to snow is what caused this. We began looking into faster methods of growing the plants now that our first attempt flopped. An idea came up that we should use two wide cups, fill one with soil, and the seeds, and put it in a cup full of water. The cup on top containing the soil will have a hole in the bottom and a rope stuck through it. The water in the cup below will work up the rope and into the soil. We made multiple of these and filled each cup with different plants. We then took this idea and tested which nutrient gradient would grow the fastest, so we made another set identical to the first set, except we added more fertilizer to the second set. We want to see if more fertilizer would kill the plants, or if it would make them grow faster. Today is the first day of observations, and both sets seem to be growing at about the same rate despite the difference in fertilizer. We will continue to observe their growth and will keep you updated.
Today marks our first day of observations! We have successfully fixed all previous problems that arose from lighting within a day of them occurring. We switched out the incandescent bulbs for fluorescent Bulbs. This stopped the Styrofoam from melting, and the bulbs we are using are now all at the exact same height. Two of the plants already started to sprout! We will continue to monitor the plants growth and will keep you updated.
Our group, G2, is trying to find out how plants respond to different conditions, including alternation rates of light, color frequency of light, temperature of lights, and nutrient gradients. We hope to set up independent terrariums in which we can modify any of the variables mentioned. These terrariums will have sensors data logging during the whole experiment. We will also take qualitative and quantitative data in terms of the health of the plants. We hope to control any automated processes using an arduino microcontroller. This data will be used to determine the best conditions to control in our final design.
We planted 10 types of fast growing plants, along with spinach, and radishes this past class. When we returned, we had several problems. The first problem was that the styrofoam which the seeds were placed in, had begun to melt due to the heat of the lamps. To fix this, we raised the lights by 15 centimeters, making them 45 centimeters above the plants. Another problem that we faced was keeping the lamps in place. The lamps are attached by a clamp to a metal pole, however, the clamp is not proving to be very effective. We are working on getting fluorescent bulbs in place of the incandescent light bulbs for our second round of testing. The fluorescent bulbs in the school already are held up, while the bulbs we are currently using need to be clamped. The other reason we are choosing to use fluorescent bulbs is that they produce less heat energy in exchange, and more light energy than incandescent bulbs, making it a better choice for this experiment. We will continue to monitor these plants until they are fully grown. Once the fast growing plants are ready, we will begin a second round of testing using better equipment.