Saturday, January 25, 2014

Growing food indoors efficiently

Photo from Engadget website
In my last post I wrote about BlinkScan. Another shortlisted Innovation in the Engadget Insert Coin Competition is GrowCubes -- the Readers' Choice Award.

The GrowCubes System, designed by Chris Beauvois, is an innovation that grows plants indoors with "aeroponics," which uses mist instead of water to keep the plants nourished. In this way, plants and vegetables can be grown faster, all year round. The cubes are each 2 meters square in size, and are stackable. The environment of the plants can be controlled by an iOS app.

The system is described in more detail in this article:

This article also includes a concise process description of the GrowCubes System.

The following link has a video (3:20) which shows how the system works:

The narrator speaks very clearly, at a slow tempo, and the background music is quiet enough not to interfere with listening comprehension. So it is appropriate for less advanced students.

My students found the device very interesting, but disagreed about who would use it, and where. They felt that although the device is described as not needing much room, it looks like it would be too large for private use (for example, an average apartment). In addition, the space between rotating shelves doesn't look as if it is high enough for some of the vegetables pictured in the video as examples of what you can grow. It is expected to sell for $2,000 per unit, so might not be affordable for a private consumer.

However, students brainstormed other uses, focusing on where and in which situations the need for this device would be greatest. This discussion was very creative, and useful for developing students' speaking skills and functions of agreeing/disagreeing and persuasion.

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