Greening The Cosmos with ExploraVision
Congratulations to my students on their selection as a 2022-2023 Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision Honorable Mention Winner! The Honorable Mention award places our team's project among the top 10% of all ExploraVision projects submitted to the competition this year. My students are commended for a job well done in demonstration innovative thinking in their exploration of science and its impact on technology and the future. As their mentor, I feel rewarded knowing that my leadership role was critical in their success.
Three very brave families put their trust in me when I told them I wanted the students to engage in this project over the course of February Vacation. The children met three times for several hours each time. They worked on the project for half of their meeting time and had the other half to free play. They chose the topic of robots growing plants and guided the expression of their ideas using drawing, scale models, and research. One valuable source of information became Kristopher Roy, expert indoor cultivator for ARL Healthcare.
Wouldn't it be great if plants could tell us exactly what they need in real time? That way, we could make sure they get exactly the right amount of water, soil, and light to stay healthy and happy! Our innovation combines the technology of Plantwave, Artificial Intelligence, and robotics to enhance plant growth for indoor gardening. It would be so wonderful to have the light move up and down depending on what the plant needs - just like a plant whisperer! We think this would be an amazing development and we are excited to see what the future holds for our green friends!
That's the main idea that lead to these small scientists to experiment with physics and engineering combined with some light gardening. As an influential teacher, my passion for STEM stems from my mission to build young women's confidence in technical subjects. It has always seemed like project-based learning works best when groups can empower each other and physically demonstrate their strengths. Our involvement with ExploraVision began when we discovered the scholarship program on a list of opportunities for the elementary age group.
I would encourage any educators to submit projects for next year competition. Even if you are not a classroom teacher, any tutor or parent could undertake this endeavor if they stay organized and keep the kids motivated. Bringing in an expert on the topic can relieve some of the mental load of the projects informations and it can excite the participants to meet a working scientist. In a world of never ending cat videos and fish songs, this is a wonderful way to activate growing brains on real world matters.
On the one hand, the idea of having a robotic lab to grow plants in space could be beneficial; however, on the other hand, I am concerned about the potential risks that could arise from having an entirely robotic system. If the robot were to malfunction, there would be no one there to repair the problem and the plants could be at risk of contamination or even destruction. While having this technology of plant and AI communication could help sustain life in the event of a global disaster, I believe that more research and testing should be done before implementing this type of system.
"Growing Plants in Space"
"Plants in Space"
"Brief History of House Plants"
"The Interaction of Human Enteric Pathogens with Plants" by
Jeong-A Lim, Dong Hwan Lee, and Sunggi Heu