New weather-monitoring system installed on campus

Aquaponics Garden nearing completion after upgrades

WEATHER OR NOT— Mark Swicegood, left, and John Grimmer monitor data while Eddie Villanueva installs the new weather-monitoring system over an old ticket booth at the new STEM Aquaponics Garden and Science Learning Center. CN/ Steven Adamo

By Steven Adamo

ELAC’s new Aquaponics Garden and Science Learning Lab received a brand new weather-monitoring system last week. The garden and learning lab is part of a $6 million Jardin de STEM grant awarded to ELAC’s STEM Department two years ago. 

“Aquaponics gardening combines hydroponics and aquaculture where fish waste fertilizes plants and vegetables in an organically controlled system,” Lou Hughes, an internal evaluator for the STEM Department, said. “From a science standpoint, there’s a lot more you can do with it than with an ordinary garden.”

The aquaponics garden, according to Hughes, was inspired by the only other aquaponics garden in the area at the Roybal Foundation in East Los Angeles. The process of aquaponics is based on what the ancient Aztecs called “chinampas.”

The STEM faculty, along with the assistance of the Roots of STEM student organization, will be in charge of operating and maintaining the garden and learning lab. The lab is a collaborative effort between multiple disciplines including engineering and geology. 

Phase-one of the project began Friday when Roots of STEM planted a variety of spring vegetables and over 2,000 seeds. Ammonium nitrate was also added to the fish pond, which will continue for 60 more days to ensure the water is safe enough to accept fish. 

AQUAPONICS: Weather station to detect changes in environment

CN/ Steven Adamo

The weather station is the first of its kind within the Los Angeles Community College District.

Plans to extend the program to the other campuses are in the works. 

“We want to put [a weather station] on each campus in LACCD so that you can watch the changes that happen in the atmosphere as the atmosphere moves across the basin,” said John Grimmer, a recently-retired chair of the Anthropology, Geography, Geology Department. 

The weather station is capable of reading wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, rainfall and can even identify specific types of pollution.

“You can track, and you will be able to see the diesel pollution in the morning. You can then compare the different pollutions of the freeway in the afternoon and day,” Eddie Villanueva, assistant professor of the Electronics Department said. 

Villanueva said the data transmitted by the weather station will be transmitted wirelessly to the Electronics Department on the third floor of the E7 building. 

Soon, the data will transmit in real-time and will be available to students through a website. 

In the future, small computers such as Arduinos and the RaspberryPi will also be used to collect data at the aquaponics garden and science learning lab. 

To combat the weed problems, the ground of the aquaponics section is covered in coconut shavings. 

According to Mark Swicegood of the Engineering Department, the shavings combat the weeds while also providing some cushion to walk on. 

The Aquaponics Garden and Science Learning Lab is located at the corner of Floral Drive and Avalanche Way. 

For more information about the project, visit the Engineering Department or the Roots of Stem student club at the MESA room.

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