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Archive / March, 2015

Groovy Hydroponic Gardens Around the World

The advantages of hydroponic growing gardens and farms are gaining interest around the world.  Hydroponics uses less water than traditional farming, is environmentally friendly, and produces more plants, fruits and vegetables.  Also, it requires less space and uses less energy.

Groovy Hydroponic Gardens Around the World

The hydroponic method of growing can be accomplished through vertical gardens on urban rooftops, in closed domes and greenhouses, on open land farms or in your own home.

Check out these groovy hydroponic farms and gardens around the world:

Epcot Center Green Houses

The Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center The Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, consists of several connected greenhouses where fruits and vegetables grow in the air, water and sand. The plants grow in vertical towers, conveyor belts, above-ground pipes, cool containers and spiral structures. The Land tour takes visitors on a groovy ride through its Sustainable Agriculture and Research Center, where these methods of growing are used to cultivate a spectacular variety of herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers.

The aeroponic method of growing, where roots are exposed to the air and sprayed with nutrient-based water, is used to grow Brussels sprouts, okra and herbs in the Pavilion.  You can also see edible flowers, such as marigolds, poppies, lavender, viola and snap dragons, growing in an aeroponic vertical tower.

O’Hare Airport

O'Hare Airport aeroponic vertical garden The first aeroponic vertical garden located in an airport opened in 2013 at O’Hare Airport in Chicago, Illinois.  A water-nutrient solution cycles through 26 towers that hold over 1,100 plant roots suspended in the air.  The 928-square-foot indoor garden produces a fresh supply of greens that are then used by chefs at Stanley’s Blackhawks Lounge, Wicker Seafood and Sushi Restaurant, Wolfgang Puck and other airport restaurants. STEMists can find the special garden in between O’Hare’s terminals 2 and 3 in the mezzanine level of the Rotunda Building.

Miyagi Prefecture Farm

Miyagi Prefecture FarmPlant physiologist Shigeharu Shimamura converted a Sony semiconductor plant in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture into the world’s largest indoor farm. About the size of a football field, the farms uses 17,500 LED lights spread across 18 cultivation racks, each towering 16 levels high. The LED bulbs provide a most favorable wavelength of light that increases plant growth by 250 percent!  The indoor farm decreases water usage to only 1% of what’s used in conventional farms and a 50% decrease in produce waste.  An astounding 10,000 heads of lettuce are cultivated each day.

Gotham Greens

Gotham Greens

Gotham Greens in New York City operates three rooftop greenhouses that use the hydroponic method of growing.  The first Gotham Green facility, located in Brooklyn, produces over 100 tons of greens each year. A second location in Brooklyn sits atop Whole Foods Market, and produces over 200 tons of greens and tomatoes.  Gotham Greens’ largest rooftop greenhouse is located in Queens and boasts 60,000 square feet of growing space.

Hydro-Taste U-pick Farm

Hydro-Taste U-pick FarmSTEMists can pick their own fruits and vegetables at Hydro-Taste Hydroponic U-pick Farm located in Myakka City, Florida, about 22 miles east of Sarasota. Visitors can pick from 250,000 hydroponic plants, including strawberries, blueberries, kale, corn, peppers and cabbage. The benefits of hydroponic farming are evident at Hydro-Taste. At this farm,  60,000 strawberry plants grow on a half-acre and use only 900 gallons of water a day, whereas the same amount of strawberry plants would take up seven acres on a traditional soil-based ground farm and use over 140,000 gallons of water a day.

Lufa Farms

Lufa FarmsIn 2011, Lufa Farms in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, built the world’s first commercial rooftop greenhouse that spans 30,000 square feet of sustainable hydroponics.  The main goal of Lufa Farms, like many city rooftop gardens, is to grow food for taste and nutrition – close to where the people live. Its first harvest of tomatoes was distributed to 400 local markets and restaurants.

Water Works” Groovy Lab in a Box

Hydroponic farms and gardens can be found in all parts of the world. However, if one is not close enough to visit you and your STEMists can learn more about hydroponic systems with the educational STEM activities found in the “Water Works” groovy box — explore different types of hydroponic systems, seed germination and photosynthesis! Build a water reservoir, test tube bean stalk, hanging raised beds, a groovy space barn and much, much, more! Practice essential 21st century science skills: pipetting, measuring volume and length, making observations and collecting data. Join Now! and challenge your STEMists to a monthly Groovy Lab in a Box, full of everything a child needs to learn about and do hands-on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) investigations. Our monthly box activates thinking, questioning, inquiring and original creation as we guide children through scientific inquiry and engineering design process.

Failure Is A Groovy Way To Learn

How do you learn?  More than likely, learning from your mistakes is one of the ways you learn. Sometimes STEMists go through school afraid to make a mistake, but we’re here to tell you that failure is a groovy way to learn. Failure is how we all get better; it’s how we succeed.
Failure Is A Groovy Way To Learn

Failure also teaches you about resiliency and grit:

  • Resiliency is how you bounce back from adversity
  • Grit is how you persevere through challenges

As you learn and fail, you’ll need to bounce back and hang in there when things get tough. Remember, this is an important part of the learning process.

Scientists, inventors, and engineers are constantly battling failure. They also must be resilient and have a lot of grit to make it through their challenges. These STEMists confront failure and use it to their advantage.  In fact, these failures help them learn how to do their projects better the next time!

So, the next time you fail, remember these stories of how failure can turn into success:

Elon Musk and SpaceXElon Musk

Elon Reeve Musk is an entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and investor; he is the founder of the company that became PayPal; CEO and chief product architect of Tesla Motors; and CEO of SpaceX, the maker of launch vehicles and spacecraft.

Musk’s goal through SpaceX is to revolutionize space technology with reusable rockets so people can live on other planets.

When SpaceX’s latest rocket landing missed the mark, the company tweeted, “Close, but no cigar. This time.” Musk tweeted, “Full RUD (rapid unscheduled disassembly) event. Ship is fine minor repairs. Exciting day!”

His attitude is like that of a great inventor—accepting of failure, sometimes even excited—ready to apply what his team has learned to the next launch.

Jack AndrakaJack Andraka

Jack Andraka is a STEMist not much older than you! Born in 1997, Andraka is an inventor, scientist and cancer researcher. When a family friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Andraka wanted to find a way to test for cancers – similar to how diabetics check their blood sugar levels every day.

He contacted 200 research labs and universities about his idea – and received 199 rejections. Finally, a professor at Johns Hopkins University agreed to work with Andraka. Thanks for Andraka’s resiliency and grit, he developed a fast, easy way to detect increases in a certain protein, which often indicate early stages of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers.

J.K. RowlingJ.K. Rowling

Imagine the world without Harry Potter!

After 12 rejections from publishers, author J.K. Rowling sold her first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, for only $4,000.  Rowling is now worth an estimated $1 billion and has had great success with the Harry Potter series and films.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison, inventor and businessman, had many failures that led him to great inventions.  For example, in 1889, Edison created Edison Portland Cement Co. because he believed everything could be made out of concrete.  Thomas Edison and the light bulbHe made cement cabinets, pianos, and houses; however, people did not purchase many of his products.  Edison realized the public would not pay for his costly cement products.  And, although the idea was not widely accepted, it was not a total failure.  Edison’s company was hired to build Yankee Stadium in the Bronx!

His most notable failure, however, is the light bulb.   Edison created 10,000 prototypes before getting it right.  He said, “I have not failed 100 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”

Silly PuttySilly Putty

James Wright was an engineer at General Electric when he failed at making a substitute for rubber during World War II.  Wright was hoping his silicone substitute would help the U.S. Government make airplane tires, boots for soldiers, and other items that used rubber during manufacturing at wartime.  These items and other materials were being produced at a faster rate, causing a decrease in the availability of rubber. One of Wright’s experiments included adding boric acid to the silicone oil.  It did not work to replace rubber, but his invention gave children hours and hours of playtime with his Silly Putty invention!

Dr. SeussDr. Seuss Books

And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, the first book written by author Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was rejected by 27 publishers.  This means 27 companies did not think Dr. Seuss knew how to write children’s books! Later, Dr. Seuss’ friend helped him find a company to publish the book, and since then, Dr. Seuss wrote more than 60 books and sold over 600 million copies.  In fact, Dr. Seuss continues to be a best-selling author, even after his death in 1991.

Post-It NotesSpencer Silver, the inventor of the Post-It Note

In 1968, 3M Laboratories researcher and scientist, Spencer Silver, was tasked with creating a strong adhesive. His experiments were not successful, but he did make a less strong adhesive that he learned could be easily removed without leaving a mark on the object or material it was stuck to.  His newest, less strong adhesive was not used by the company.  Nearly six years later, a co-worker took the invention and applied it to scraps of paper to mark his place in his choir hymn book.  Later he applied it to yellow scraps of paper from the 3M Company, and the Post-It Note was born!

Failure is nothing to be ashamed about! In fact, it’s part of your journey to success.  Failure encourages, builds confidence and teaches. It also teaches you to be resilient and have grit.

Groovy STEMists – take notice to what happens when you do an experiment that doesn’t work; check your notes in your lab notebook and learn from them.  Failing to complete one of the Groovy Lab in a Box investigations or engineering design challenges will lead to more successful ones!

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