BioEngineering Summer Camp 2023 Guest Blogs

I love teaching Applied STEM summer camps. It never ceases to amaze me what kids will dream up if you give them a problem, some tools and then get out of their way. These are two BioEngineering Summer Camp 2023 Guest Blogs that were shared with me today.

Children Own The Future By Embracing Today Their Way

It is remarkable to see your impact through the eyes of a kid. It’s very important for me that you understand I presented a problem and these two created solutions that were manageable, doable, and sustainable. Creativity and problem-solving is an innate superpower of youth.

Liam’s Outdoor Data Station

This was Liam’s design for the outdoor data station. The requirements were:

  • The work surface had to be mounted and retractable
  • The station had to be covered and shaded
  • The monitors had to be free from the table surface
  • The entire array had to run on Solar, Wind, or Battery Power

Liam worked with his team and a high school intern who was also attending the camp. They had to provide me with detailed list of outside materials that would be needed and a drawing of their design. Liam is a great engineer in training, but he isn’t fond of mapping things out.

This is what Liam and his team designed. It works very well and uses the dedicated 5G wireless router signal that the Bioreactor uses at Mezzacello. The system is stable and easily mountable and dismountable. Below is the text from Liam’s description.

What I Did

I built a deck, mounted a monitor stand, managed setting up two Windows 11 workstations, created a database in Airtable, setup the wifi relay, and managed the entire Computer array storage system, used a solar-powered power station to power the entire system, hung chairs, and made an old compressor work from. Reused 12V 30Ah battery and spare wire. (more on this later)

Things I Did Wrong And Fixed

We put the desk in, but not on the (wall) studs. So we had to (take it down and) move it over.

Sketch Something I Did

Editor’s Note: Frankly I am blown away that he drew this from MEMORY! That lesson resonated with him. The plan view is a stroke of genius!

Fun I Had

Holding Alice Cooper was fun because he’s really cute.

Max’s Automated and Distributed Watering System

This was Max’s design for the distributed and automated watering system. The requirements were:

  • The watering source had to be circles large enough to cover the entire area of the potager gardens
  • The system had to make use of the existing steel trellis
  • No hoses could be exposed
  • The water had to come on and off automatically
  • The system could not use more than 3 gallons of water total on any one day

This is what Max designed. It works very well and uses city water for now but there are plans to integrate a solar-powered pump from the Bioreactor water tower at Mezzacello. The system is stable and easily programmed and run. Below is the text from Max’s description.

Mezzacello is a cool urban farm place that grows lots of stuff. I buried hoses in holes to make a sprinkler system for the garden. But I made the hole to big and deep. So I had to dig it again, smaller and closer. Then I had to fix some stuff.

Editor’s note: BioLab 4 is the shed on which Liam’s outdoor station station is mounted to.

Here is a plan view of the design.

There’s a lot of compost and animals and wind turbines, and solar panels and plants growing. And everyone is always working on something. I learned a lot there and I had a lot of fun too.

A Delight, A Privilege, and a Surprise

I pride myself on building and running programming that really captures the imagination and excitement of learning for kids. They need the opportunity to do things and fail and do them again. I am proud of these young people – all of them! – and I am delighted that they shared their journey with me in such a fun and unique way.

Applied STEM at Mezzacello is more than just science, technology, engineering and math. It is a true multi-sensory and disciplinary experience. I always strive to interweave lessons in leadership, cooperation, art, writing, and public speaking.

Those are the human skills that these young future leaders are going to need. They are tasked with changing the world in the face of Climate Reality. The very least we should be doing is allowing them to solve the problems on their terms and in their voices.

A Shout Out To My Sponsors

I wanted to give a shout to Richard Riley for always supporting me, and Olivia Hickey for entrusting me with her sons and getting them to write these guest blogs. That was a delight! I love that I get to be part of the change I want to see in the world!

I also want to thank The PAST Foundation, Franklin Park Conservatory, Scotts Miracle Grow, The Columbus Foundation, Battelle, The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, Bronzeville Grower’s Market, and The City of Columbus Parks and Recreation for underwriting this particular grant.

I am grateful to all of them for getting the opportunity to help make a positive change in the world. I welcome all collaboration and partnership. Nature hates a vacuum and I am certain I can’t be the best or only force for positive change, so let’s work together!

A special shout out to Walker Evans at Columbus Underground for putting the idea of expanding collaboration at his inaugural #CivicSpeakeasy and the Columbus Metropolitan Club and the amazing Sophia Fifner for reminding us that ALL of us are better TOGETHER! Brava and thank you all.

This is a part of the City of Columbus Parks and Recreation Summer Grant Grant #1521-2023

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