aspara Nature Smart Hydroponic Grower and STEM Education: A Marriage Made in Heaven! + ready-to-use sample experiments

September 02, 2019

Banner image showing skyscraper buildings with icons above them

In the advent of aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower, STEM education may have found its most potent learning tool yet. The indoor smart garden is modern agriculture dressed to the nines and it’s benefits to STEM couldn’t be more obvious.   

First up, aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower grows nutritious fruits and veggies just about anywhere without the need for sun, rain or soil - a unique trait that makes it a must-have for homes around the world. Furthermore, what sets it miles apart from the rest is that you can constantly monitor a host of variables essential in any plant growth which, purposefully, is perfect for STEM classes as it can mimic natural environments and alter several variables that determine plant growth, height and much more. This is all achievable because of the aspara app - making this a certified IoT device with the smart sensors strategically integrated. This app is capable of controlling and monitoring several aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower, enabling teachers and academics to efficiently monitor several experiments across a range of produce at the same time. 

Arguably, it’s a perfect match for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses, designed to boost American education system and keep its belt as the foremost economic powerhouse on the planet. Indeed that stimulus may have been timely as America today houses the richest tech billionaires in the world, aptly spearheaded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos - the first ever centi-billionaire since man learned to mint coins and print money.

But STEM may need aspara Nature to wave its magic this time around. As the number of American students on taking up STEM courses since its inception are on the dive, plunging like never before, the infusion of aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower could provide a timely spark to stir needed interest in STEM classes all over the country. It’s one glorious opportunity for learners to look into the beauty of applied sciences rolled into one and learn social responsibility in the process.

Student with textbook with STEM title

STEM - Its Merits and Its origins

America: Land of the Richest Technology Billionaires

You could be hiding in a cave or in a monastery somewhere in the Himalayas for a decade, yet, you’ll still find it hard to hide the fact that we are in a technology-driven world today. All it takes is for you to step outside. In the streets. Where visionary technocrats decades ago, men like Henry Ford, envisioned a ‘horseless carriage’ for every American household, today the geniuses behind Google, Tesla and Uber are putting out ‘driverless cars’. 

Sensing the tremendous Earth-changing potential of modern technology, educators in America in the early 2000’s dug deeper, wishing to put the nation at a most advantageous place for upcoming changes. Churning studies after studies, these think-tanks reckoned that wealth in the future will be created by people who can make the most of these technologies. 

They looked into the future and predicted how America would fare against the world. In the process, they stumbled upon one glaring lack in the educational system: millions of American students were ill-prepared for the onset of modern tech. That’s the rationale behind the emergence of STEM in the American classroom.

A quick look of the world’s Top 10 billionaires; 

Billionaire/Age 

Rank in Wealth/ (Est.) Worth

Company - Country

Nature

Jeff Bezos, 55

1st / $131 billion

Amazon - USA

Technology - online shopping

Bill Gates, 63

2nd/ $96.5 billion

Microsoft - USA

Technology -  computer software 

Larry Ellison, 74

7th/ $62.5 billion 

Oracle - USA 

Technology -  computer software 

Mark Zuckerberg, 34

8th/ $62.3 billion

Facebook - USA

Technology -  computer software 

Larry Page, 45

10th/ $50.8 billion 

Alphabet Inc. - USA

Technology -  computer software 

 

Truly, it would all seem America is leading the world in tech and garnering greater global economic muscle.  But a decade and years ago, the largest economy in the world looked doomed. Unprepared to take on the economic world as we know it. 

Using aspara nature hydroponic smart grower for STEM education

At the start of the 21st century, experts saw a glaring weakness in America’s economic position. Studies revealed its future workers were ill-prepared to compete in the world stage. Large number of American students were under performing. 

So dramatic is the loss of competence that the United States was ranked 21st in the 30-country panel in terms of science and overall general knowledge. 

In reaction, congress drastically formed a STEM Education Caucus, sounding the alarm in the process. In short, America needed to play catch-up in the early 2000’s or lose its place as a foremost global economic leader..

One report laid the direct relationship of wealth and competence: a 2005 report by the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine titled Rising Above the Gathering Storm. It stipulated that there is a direct relationship between the proliferation of wealth and knowledge-intensive jobs focused on science and technology

Sadly, U.S. students were not doing as well in STEM disciplines compared to students of other countries in the world, the report found. 

Moreover, two findings explicitly showed America is lagging behind leading countries in the world. These studies were:

TIMMS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and

PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)

TIMMS is a regular international competition in the field of mathematics and science for fourth and eighth graders all over the world while PISA is a triennial assessment to check the educational proficiency of 15-year-olds. Sadly, PISA 2006 results point out how a comparatively . After a thorough study, all things STEM was born. 

STEM, previously named SMET, is an acronym resulting from a timely rearrangement of the letters in 2001 by Judith Ramaley, an American biologist who was the assistant director of education and human resource at NSF. 

In essence, STEM is blended learning. It is the integration of the 4 distinct disciplines most useful to the industry today, namely: 

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

Fundings poured in, in 2014 alone, then-President Barack Obama poured $3.1 billion to finance various STEM educational programs all over the country. Funds were used to recruit top talent as STEM teachers who taught in STEM-focused high schools. New learning technologies were also explored. 

 

STEM by the Wayside, Losing Steam

As promising as STEM is, interest in the education push is waning as the years went by. In this sense, STEM is losing steam.

Recently, U.S. Department of Education details less and fewer students have declared an interest in STEM fields. Statistics show: 

  • Only 16 % of high school students show interest in a STEM career
  • Of high-school freshmen, only 28 % declare their desire to pursue a STEM-driven career
  • With 57 % of these freshmen losing interest in STEM eventually

That’s against the backdrop of America’s overall statistics in education. Government data shows:

  • 32 million adults in America cannot read
  • Or about 14 percent of the entire adult population

While illiteracy may not be as huge a problem in the US as in developing countries, it still holds the nation hostage. Amongst its peers of developed nation, America ranks 16th when it comes to adult reading skills. 

Even when America’s unemployment has dropped to 3.6% in April of 2019, touted as the lowest since the year 1969, there are still about 5.9 million Americans who are unemployed. 

What makes it even more worrying is in spite of the huge number of unemployed, the need for highly-skilled workers are more pronounced now more than ever. It is predicted that more and more STEM-related jobs will blossom as the years go by. In 2018 alone over:

  • 65 million workers were needed for STEM jobs
  • With manufacturing needing 600,000 workers

Furthermore, there is a steady demand for STEM-focused jobs. Cloud computing alone created over 1.7 million jobs from 2011 to 2015. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows most of the STEM careers in the future will come from:

  • Computing - taking in 71 percent
  • Engineering (Traditional) - taking in 16 percent
  • Physical Sciences - taking in 7 percent

Obviously, the need for students to learn more than one facet of STEM is apparent, the opportunities growing exponentially . Getting, therefore, learning tools that prepare students for such an endeavor is spot on and that’s where the aspara Nature smart garden can be most instrumental. 

Aspara Nature smart grower device with features listed

aspara Nature Smart Hydroponic Grower:  Perfect for STEM! 

Rise of Hydroponics

Old habits die hard. Take how we view farming. When you talk about planting, what you may have in mind is people putting seeds into the ground and taking time to grow the plant. It’s just the way it is. We need soil to grow our fruits and vegetables and a whole army of staple products.

But traditional soil-grown crop production has its flaws. For one, you need swaths and swaths of land to grow your plants, an idea that may loses its appeal as population grows by leaps and bounds. 

Inevitably, the land itself can be suspect. As man continues to pollute his surroundings via improper waste disposals (e.g., oil spills, pesticides, illegal dumping), the soil can be a harsh environment for crops to grow. It’s just a matter of time before it will be stripped of needed nutritional content. 

As soil pollution becomes rampant, ultimately the risk of pollution that affects humans grows higher. In that ecosystem, toxic elements in the soil could result in polluted plants. Further up the food chain, these plants could be fodder for land animals which can be food on the table for humans.

As arable land is increasingly turned into non-arable land due to agricultural pesticides and fertilizers and to global warming, the home of feeding a booming number of people grows lesser and lesser by the year, and the outlook is grim. 

Data shows that: 

  • in 40 years, an additional 2 billion people will be added to the planet
  • a number that would require 40% increase in our food production.

Hydroponics, or the growing of plants by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent instead of the traditional soil, may just be the right answer to such a monumental need. Over the years, as its processes got refined ever since Francis Bacon first described soil-less plants in his 1627 book, hydroponics has produced head-turning results. Among these are: 

  • Increase of yield by 3 to 10 times for the same amount of space
  • Faster yield of crops in half the traditional time
  • Better nutritional value of the end product
  • Possibility of growing plants indoors away from the torments of weather
  • Doing away with harmful pesticides and weed control products

In short, you have a system that not only grow superior crops, it gives you crops at a faster rate. Add the fact that you won’t have the traditional hassles of keeping tab of the weather, its systemic unpredictability and appetite for destruction, and you have one better way to get your greens.

 

Introducing aspara Nature: Hydroponics at Its Bestest Best

Welcome to future gardening. 

Officially introduced to the market in early 2019, aspara Nature, is designed to fit your kitchen countertop, living table or even bedroom cabinet top. In that sense, it’s diminutive by traditional standards. However, don’t be fooled by appearances. It may be small but it’s one powerful smart garden that’s bound to change the way you source your greens. Or for that matter, your fruits too.

A product of years-long scientific research by the best and brightest in the land. For the uninitiated, this means the smart garden box would need:

  • No direct sunlight
  • No rain 
  • No soil to grow plants

Instead, it relies on an ebb and flow techniques that provides oxygen and nutrients to the plants. The good news is that plants won’t be held hostage to the changing nature of the weather. More importantly, it allows for the most productive growth of plants free from: 

  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • GMOs
  • Land toxins
  • Water pollutants

In lieu of traditional soil-based agriculture we’ve witnessed since time immemorial,  aspara Nature has a reservoir water system which supplies your seeds and plants with the right amounts of nutrients automatically.

As a paragon of efficiency, the system uses each and every drop of nutrient-filled water. No wastage whatsoever.

Even better, the smart grower is armed to the teeth with powerful LEDs:

  • Over 80 bulbs
  • 15 pre-programmed lighting combination

Studies have shown that different plants need a combination of different light spectrum based on the wavelength. aspara Nature can cater to the very coveted blue red light blend that is essential to certain plants and is pre-programmed to deliver the right amount and intensity of lights for the corresponding plant.

In addition, 10 powerful sensors are keeping tab on your plants’ growth progress giving you a round-the-clock 24-hour 360-degree monitoring. A powerful smart hydroponic grower with a monitoring system.

Complete with the aspara app, you can monitor the progress of your greens on your smartphone. Giving you full climate control. Not to mention full growth control. Right at the tip of your fingers.

With all these powerful features set, aspara Nature smart hydroponic garden system is armed to the teeth and the results say it all. With the aspara Nature, you can harvest the best greens in the shortest amount of time. Definitely a lot shorter than traditional methods. 

Minus all the hassles. Right at home.

To note, the aspara Nature smart grower caters to a slew of fruits and vegetables. Amongst them are:

  • Green lettuce
  • Mizuna
  • Blue curled kale
  • Red lettuce
  • Butterhead lettuce
  • Mixed lettuce
  • Mixed baby leaf
  • Arugula
  • Sweet basil
  • Coriander
  • Dill
  • Parsley
  • Cherry tomato
  • Red radish
  • Pansy

Each of these plants have their specific lighting needs to maximize growth. aspara Nature allows you to cater to each of these needs.

Or for that matter, at school. 

9 aspara nature hydroponic smart grower arranged with differnet background and produce growing

aspara Nature in the classroom

A Most Advanced Laboratory Tool for Growing Plants

As efficient as the aspara Nature is at home, it is even more effective as a learning tool in the classroom setting and as its functions can’t be found elsewhere, not even in other hydroponic systems in the market, it stands far and beyond the next hydroponic for an education tool.

What makes aspara Nature smart garden an experimenter’s paradise is it allows the easy constant monitoring of a wide array of variables, a feat that has never been done by any hydroponic system before. In this sense, this hydroponic set is truly revolutionary.

You don’t have to be a Nobel Prize-winning scientist like Marie Curie to know that experimentation is all about variables and its effects. Designed to test a hypothesis, the scientific method of research must be able to observe the changes happening as different variables are being put in place. 

Basically, you have the: 

1.) dependent variable

2.) independent variable

Where the independent variable is changed to see its effects on the dependent variable.

In essence, a whole new world of plant growth experimentation opens up when you utilize the aspara Nature smart grower in the laboratory. 

On the surface, these are some of the essential plant growing conditions you can monitor with the aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Water level
  • Nutrients level
  • Light

All these parameters affect plant growth. Being able to monitor these aspects can bring an experimenter closer to what environment is ideal for plant growth. Even more astounding, you can do the monitoring of all these plant growing conditions online. With an app, you can take a peek at everything that’s essential using your smartphone. Students therefore can access live data from their smart phone at home.

collage of teachers and students in school environment

Expanding Classroom KLA’s with the aspara Nature

There is no better way to show how effective the aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower is in a class setting than in an actual real-life experiment.

To illustrate further, below are some of the key takeaways for teachers wanting to expand their methodologies in STEM education.

  • aspara Nature is a smart grower that creates ideal environments for experimentation. Arguably, in such a setting, it’s unequaled.
  • It integrates learning elements from different KLAs (Key Learning Areas). Integration runs at the gamut of STEM.
  • Teachers can custom-fit their lessons to fit the needs of their students. This way the smart grower can cater to a wide array of learners - from the young graders to middle-schoolers.
  • As versatile as aspara Nature is, teachers can design different experiments suitable for different grades from Grades 1 to 9

Further, the smart gardening device allows teacher to touch on various sciences in KLAs. As illustrated below:

 

Subjects/ Learning elements

 

 

Learning with asparaTM

 

Life science / Biology

 

 

Hydroponics, plant growth

 

 

Chemistry

 

 

 

Elements of plant growth

 

Physics

 

 

 

Light and its effect on plant 

 

Food science

 

 

Sensory evaluation and nutritional analysis

 

 

Information Technology

 

 

IoT and the mechanism behind

 

Geography

 

 

Food Shortage and the solution

 

Moreover, here are some of the key features that makes aspara Nature smart garden perfect in laboratory setting: 

  1. Clean - Students need not get dirty to learn the basics of farming. The aspara Nature is a closed system which will not attract pesky bugs.
  1. Soiless- The mere fact that no actual soil is used in gardening makes the smart grower easy to control.
  1. Visible roots- Unlike traditional soil-based gardening, roots of plants in the aspara Nature system is easily visible making growth easily visualized.
  1. Easy to weigh the plant - Another key aspect of plant growth is weight. In traditional soil-based systems, getting a growing plant’s weight can be an uphill climb; in the aspara Nature it’s as easy as ABC.

Furthermore, aspara Nature is an experimenter’s dream come true. The worst-case scenario in conducting scientific research is not being able to take control of the variables. This isn’t the case for aspara Nature as it allows the student total control over: 

  • Light intensity
  • Light spectrum
  • Light period
  • Water flow

Giving you greater leverage in your tests, you can track all these key aspects 24-7 via your smartphone, with data that’s ready to download through a web portal, “aspara Research”. 

That’s not all though. The aspara Research web portal can control settings for each individual aspara Nature to the extent of setting different red to blue spectrum ratio, customizing daylight cycles, adjusting a 24-hours-day to a 18-hours-day or 12 or even 2, so and so forth. All up to the user and his own designed experiment.  The user can also access all the data for all registered aspara Nature smart hydroponic garden products through this web portal. 

 

A Sample Experiment Made Possible with aspara Nature

With such a learning tool at your disposal, aspara Nature opens up doors to a wide never-before-seen variety of experiments. Here are some features you can use and the possible experiment you can derive from them:

aspara Nature Feature

Aspects to Control 

Possible Experiments

 

Controllable light

 

 

- Variable light intensity

- Variable light period

- Variable light spectrum

 

- Effect of light intensity / photo period / light spectrum on plant

 

Controllable water flow

 

 

- Variable flow interval

Variable flow cycles

 

- Effect of water flow on plant growth

 

 

Nutrients detection 

 

 

Nutrient content monitoring

 

Effect on nutrient concentration & composition on plant

 

 

Built-in Air/Water temperature and humidity sensing

 

 

Built-in thermometer

Built-in hygrometer

 

Effect of different temperature or humidity on plant growth

 

 

Project Sample: Finding the Optimum Parameters for a Specific Plant

In this project, the objective is to know what are the best growing conditions for a specific plant to grow. As it takes time to compare and tabulate results, it may take as much as 3 months for the project to succeed.

For best results, using 8 or more aspara Nature units is ideal. Students can then do needed research, setting up the experiment by looking into the effects of a variety of growth parameters on a chosen plant. 

These variable parameters can include:

  • Light (varying its spectrum/intensity/photo period)
  • Water
  • Nutrient
  • Temperature
  • Humidity (etc.)

As for results, it can be determined by the difference in leaf size, plant weight or overall plant height. Additionally, the quantitative aspect could be analyzed which may include taste, smell or appearance of the plant under experimentation.

Such an experiment could open up a number of learning avenues for the student. Among these are: 

  • Development of scientific investigative skills
  • Enhancement of scientific report writing
  • Cultivation of team spirit and cooperation
  • Exposure to the various stages of a plant’s life cycle.

Another experiment could entail the sensory evaluation of plants under different growth conditions which will enhance the learner’s ability to use his/her senses to bring about a successful scientific investigation.

Come to think of it, a whole new world of experimentation opens up with the aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower giving STEM education a timely push.

 

Project Sample: Different environmental conditions for plant life

Plants thrive in different climates as they have evolved to adapt in those conditions. Students and teachers can devise an interesting experiment to simulate those conditions and monitor the growth of various plants.

  • Objective: To find the effects on plant growth with different simulated environment
  • Use of 8 or more units of aspara and supplementary setup to simulate different environment;
    • Dessert
    • Tropical
    • rain forest
    • Savanna
    • Wetland
    • Grassland
    • Forest
    • Poles

Just some of the Experimental factors include;

Light spectrum

Varies

Light intensity

Varies

Photo period

Varies

Water flow

Varies

Nutrient

Varies

Temperature

Varies

Humidity

Varies

Plant Species

Fixed

 

Note: aspara Nature smart hydroponic grower is a globally-renowned multi-awarded product. Recently, it was awarded in 2018 with IHA Global Innovation Award (GIA) finalist and with Electronic Industries Award 2018 Gold Prize Winner. 



SOURCES:

https://www.creditdonkey.com/illiteracy-in-america.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World%27s_Billionaires

https://www.businessinsider.com/what-amazon-ceo-jeff-bezos-makes-every-day-hour-minute-2018-10

https://www.nap.edu/read/13399/chapter/4#21

https://www.everythingconnects.org/soil-pollution.html



x
x