Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

If you’ve read the children’s tale of Jack, the Giant Killer and his adventures scaling the beanstalk (or some version of this story that has been handed down in a non-US culture), you know that climbing high can have its rewards and its challenges.  Vertical farms may bring a new language to farming around the globe – as we climb ever higher to feed our expanding world population.

Vertical farming is a way in which smaller spaces can be used to produce quantities of produce and plant life that plots of land don’t allow for in crowded or urban areas.  “Simply put, vertical farming means using a multi-level building, preferably within an urban centre, to grow food.” (JP Brown)  Check out his full post on LinkedIn:  Growing Up, Not Out: The Potential of Vertical Farming

Take a look at some of the companies that are involved with this growing technique.  Maybe there’s an employment opp here for you?

SkyGreens in Singapore

The Plant in Chicago

Terrasphere in Boston

Green Living Technologies, Inc.


See the vids! maybe order the book?


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July 19th, 2014

What the heck is a mollusk, you may ask…  Well, it is any of a large phylum (Mollusca) of invertebrate animals (as snails, clams, or squids) with a soft unsegmented body usually enclosed in a calcareous shell.  Now on to the point of this blog post…

Camouflage is essential to many life forms – it is the key to their continued survival.  The Cuttlefish is one such creature; another water dweller having adaptive coloring capabilities is the Pencil Squid.  Scientists are hoping to capitalize on their investigation of the amazing ‘blend with your surroundings’ capability of these (admittedly rather unattractive) marine dwellers to increase the chances of survival for humans in combat.  [One side observation on my part, camouflaged or not, a backbone is going to be necessary for the soldier if he is being called upon under these circumstances!]

Research is being done at Harvard and UC Irvine, among other institutions and corporations globally.  To paraphrase one of the researchers on the goals of studying these marine life forms and their transmutability: “we’re…seeking to make shape-shifting clothing — the stuff of science fiction — a reality.”

There are a few different slants on the story – take a swim through them…  cuttlefish

Dinner Plate Squid used to Develop Color-changing Camouflage  (for some of us, dinner may take on a whole new ‘flavor’ – watch the video; soooo awesome!!!)

“Chameleon of the sea” reveals its secrets  (wow-imagine looking at that face in the mirror every morning)

Relying on speed, squids and cuttlefish do not have a thick, heavy outer shell. Their shells are reduced to lightweight internal bones. In squids, the bone is thin and pencil-like. In cuttlefish, these are flat surfboards riddled with tiny gas-filled chambers. Each of these creatures has eight ‘arms’ or tubers and they propel themselves by jetting water.  For more detailed info on this unusual creature go on over to Wild Fact Sheets

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July 18th, 2014

I have to admit – I stole the title for this post (’cause it made me giggle and want to say “what the heck???!!!”)

Maybe your future lies in studying the creatures of the sea and the benefits they bring to us.  They both fascinated and frightened our ancestors – perhaps you find them mysterious and enticing, too!

Why whale poo is good for the oceans… and us


Hey to Duke University for the part they play in this research!


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Some feel that our current large-scale methods of producing meat are wasteful and harmful to the environment. They propose “test tube” or “in vitro” meat as a solution.

Global demand for meat is expected to double over the next 40 years, placing further strain on the planet’s natural resources.

The first “test tube” burger was revealed in London in August 2013 and received very good reviews!

YouTube Preview Image

So, can I throw one on the barbeque for you?

CNN recently reported on this new meat product also referred to as Frankenmeat

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At the University of South Florida in Tampa, Environmental Engineering students are hard at work testing out possible methods for fertilizer production. Of course, the best way to see if a special kind of fertilizer works is to test it out. So, with starting a growth study to examine the effects of the fertilizers in mind, all that is left is to get the project started.

A first step in beginning the project -

First thing was first – a growth study needs space, so that was the first priority. Space was found at a greenhouse, and a spot needed to be created to hold the large amount of dirt needed for this project. With that said, a space was selected by the greenhouse to be cleared, and supplies were found. All the weeds and vegetation were then cleared away.



After clearing a spot big enough to build on, we had to build the holding area for the dirt, so wooden pallets were found for the job. With a trip to the dumpster and the hardware store, the wood and nails were acquired to start construction.


Next came the construction of the holding area. With assistance from the staff in the Botanical Gardens at USF, a screw gun was also made available to make the securing of the wooden parts longer lasting. After the structure was finished, tarp was placed on the bottom and the sides to prevent the topsoil from spilling out of the allotted space. The tarp was firmly secured with a stapling gun also made available thanks to the staff at the Botanical Gardens.




After the construction of the holding area, the dirt was brought over from Cypress Creek Landscaping. When the truck arrived, it was carefully backed in so that the dirt could be properly dumped to be used for the 100+ pots we plan to use for the growth study. The company was gladly able to throw in around 75 pots for free, knowing that they will all be put to good use.




With the fertilizer, the pots, the dirt and the space found, there still is yet more to be done. This start is just one step in the right direction. Now the greenhouse needs to be set up to finally commence the growth study. With this low-nutrient dirt, all the fertilizer that we add will be the only nutrients going to the plants. Let’s hope that we get some interesting results!

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