Introduction: Our Automatic Self Watering Felt Pots
We based off our design on a self watering plant. The reason for this is because we wanted to make something that was efficient and automated so the astronauts at the international space station would not have to do to tedious work like they did before, i.e watering plant pillows individually with a syringe filled with water.
The materials that we have decided to use are:
- Felt pots
- Clay soil
- Water bottle
- Thin ropes
- IV tubes
- Blood pressure pump
- Plastic rectangular prism
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Step 1: Tackle the Low Gravity Problem
When creating the design of our prototype we were aiming to solve the problems of the inefficient air flow and irrigation system in space. The main problem that we decided to tackle was the irrigation system as we thought of centering our design around the idea of a self-watering plant. We brainstormed one variation of a self-watering plant, which includes having felt at the bottom of the plant pot, with a tray of water underneath it. However, that idea would not work well in low gravity as the water will float up and not water the plant properly. As a result of that, we decided to make the pots out of felt as it would be easier to water the plant and would not have any problems regarding the low gravity in the space station. We have also added thin ropes to our design to ensure that our plant pots will stay in place.
Step 2: Have More Absorbent Soil and Pots
We thought about using felt pots because they are breathable and allow for longer retention of water. In space when the astronauts water their plants, the felt will absorb water to help the roots maintain moisture. Pebbles will also be used to prevent supersaturation of water in the soil which would deprive the soil from the air pockets it needs and the roots will not be able to breathe. Clay soil is not only dense which allows it to maintain more moisture, it is also very rich in nutrients.
Step 3: Automated Irrigation System
In order for the plants to properly receive water, IV tubes will be connected to each plant pot. The IV tubes will also be connected to a water bottle which will release water equally into each pot. The timer will be powered by batteries which allows water to be released within the duration set by the astronaut. This makes the process of watering each plant easier and less time consuming. The only thing that the astronauts will be required to do is refill the water bottle when the water runs out. All of these materials will be placed in the 50cm x 50cm x 50cm plastic rectangular prism.
Step 4: LED Lights/ Food and Growth
We decided to not make major changes with the LED lights. At the top of the box there will be 4 different color LED lights: red, blue, green, and white. These LED lights are very crucial to our design because it is a source of energy for our plants, helps the plants get directed up when they are growing, and helps astronauts feel like they are at home with green colored plants. The LED lights are also proven to decrease the time it takes for the lettuce plants to grow and also helps them keep their natural nutrients.
Step 5: Better Airflow
This form of plant growing will be more efficient than the previous one because it allows for faster watering and gives the plants proper airflow. The use of IV tubes and the pump will make it easier and faster for plants to be watered by the astronauts. Each plant will be watered at the same time while receiving equal amounts of water. Another idea we had was to use air vents at the left and right sides of the box. These air vents will allow the plants to receive proper airflow while aboard the spacecraft and will also help the plants receive the air needed to keep the plants alive and healthy.
Participated in the
Growing Beyond Earth Maker Contest