Look, Ask, Learn, Try – Damon, Jennifer, Michael, Will

For this assignment we used Damon’s living space as a place to test what was happening. Our mycelium trash can is still growing because it caught mold when we tried making it last, but we put the mold in his apartment to see how his roommates interacted with it.

Look: The roommates did not pay much attention to it. The mycelium can was placed directly next to a regular trash can in the common living area much how a recycling bin would have been placed. One of the roommates did ask why this second can looked like it had “seeds” in it. It was later explained to them the concept of our project and he liked the overall idea, especially being that it looked like another normal trash can until a closer look was given.

Ask: Damon has a friend that studies Biology at the University of California, Berkley that we asked for this part of the assignment. His feedback was positive and he expressed that if mycelium can indeed devour plastic then it could easily change the landscape of how society disposes its plastic. He did express concern with having a live fungi in a person’s home and said that it may be a better idea to have it as a larger can that sits outside a person’s home and people come collect it every week like any other type of compost system.

Try: We tried placing the mycelium can in different spots both outside and inside the home. Some spots such as close to water or an eating area were places that probably should not have a live fungus such as mycelium near it. Outside seems to be the best place for this project.

Learn: The biggest take away from this is seeing how this may affect a home’s natural state when introducing mycelium to it. Because mycelium is still in it’s early stages of development, placing it in the home may cause unforeseen circumstances to arise. Also since our mycelium can is rather small, it went unnoticed in quite a few places, so it definitely would need to increase in size to catch people’s attention. Overall, the feedback we got was that this is definitely a project that would benefit a lot of people. Disposing of plastic in a natural way such as this is appealing to everybody that heard the idea because of the well known fact that plastic is destroying our oceans and our environment in general.



Project Update – Jennifer, Michael, Damon, Will

After looking over a lot of the feedback that we received on our mycelium island project our group came to the conclusion, with the help of others from the class, that the idea overall is not feasible/believable. And so, we have chosen to focus more on the idea of mycelium eating plastic in a smaller scale project. We are looking to make either a new form of recyclable trash can made of mycelium, or some sort of instillation that mimics the general idea. For the deliverable, we are thinking of making a silicon mold from a simple waste basket, and from there grow mycelium from it. Since we don’t have an actual strain of mycelium that eats plastic, we were thinking of making a stop motion video showing our mycelium trash can eating plastic or something along those lines. If chosen for the challenge, we would try to design a 3D printed version of the mold and grow the mycelium from that.

Project Proposal – Jennifer, Damon, Will, Michael

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  • Our Idea

We propose to use mycelium to transform the large quantities of plastic waste in the ocean into biodegradable material. Specifically, we propose to grow a mycelium island on top of the giant trash pile of predominantly plastic waste located in the Pacific Ocean. There is existing research on using mycelium to degrade plastic, but previous work does not specifically focus on the plastic that is currently in the ocean, nor has any of the previous work proposed to deploy mycelium on this scale. Current attempts to reduce plastic waste in the ocean focus on filtering and removing plastic, whereas our approach would seek to transform the plastic into a non-harmful material.

  • Discussion About Contributing Factors

The overall goal of our project is to have a positive effect on the environment by reducing the amount of non-biodegradable plastic in the ocean. Before deploying the mycelium, we would need to determine exactly what the mycelium will turn the plastic into and what effects mycelium and its byproducts will have on the ecosystem. However, most of the concerns we would have about mycelium (such as any ecological problems associated with having a large amount of floating material in the ocean), are already being caused by the existing plastic garbage. In order to balance the O2 absorbed by and CO2 produced by the fungus, we would suggest growing plants on the mycelium island. Certain plants, such as bamboo, could also add increased physical stability to the island.

Our mycelium island could potentially grow large and stable enough to support human habitation, which opens the possibility of additional benefits to our project. The mycelium island could potentially serve many functions to human inhabitants, such as 1) serving as an isolated biological research space free of established ecosystems or invasive species, 2) a destination vacation spot, the profits of which could be used to continue the ocean cleaning efforts, or3) a potential home for refugees fleeing ecological disasters, particularly island nations and cultures that are at risk of disappearing due to rising sea levels.

  • Time Line

Week of March 26th – April 1st

Wednesday, March 28th – Project Pitch & Proposal

End goal: Be solid on subject and do research to learn as much as possible about mycelium

Week of April 2nd – April 8th

Wednest day, April 4th – Look, Ask, Learn, Try

End goal: begin sketches of actual island/start envisioning prototype|art instillation.

Week of April 9th – April 15th

End goal: start making presentation with final sketches | figure out how to present the information

Week of April 16th – April 22nd

Monday, April 16th – Project Update/Presentation

End goal: Be finished with art instillation and close to finish with presentation

Week of April 23rd – April 29th

End goal: Finish up all loose ends

Week of April 30th – May 6th

May 1st: turn in final documentation

  • Parts List

Computers, Drawings, Software, Mycelium, Art Supplies, Pictures, Video

  • Implementation

The way we plan on implementing our idea into the world is through building a floatable form mycelium that we can then place on the coast of California. We hope that we can place it into the environment and have it live on its own while it travels the coast collecting destroying the plastic waste that has now become part of the ocean. The island will become self sustaining, leaving it to slowly become part of the ocean and hopefully become a earth friendly replacement of the plastic island that lives out there now.     

  • Motivation

Our project will try and motivate people to see that cleaning up our oceans for a healthier planet is not an impossible feat. We can show this by making an all organic island that is self sustaining. This project is also an opportunity to talk about the ethics of building your own island and placing it near countries and whether world governments would be accepting of this idea. We will also cover the effects of the mycelium island on the oceanic ecosystem. Our project also may cover on finding a solution to world hunger considering that the excess waste from the island may be edible.

  • Similar Projects

-There are two projects that are close to ours but not quite the same. One of them is called the waste shark. Waste Shark, or otherwise known as the Wall-E of water, is an automatic ocean cleaner. It has a camera that pin points trash and swims to it for collection. https://www.popsci.com/waste-shark-is-garbage-collecting-sea-drone

– Another project simialr to ours is a project from a kid named Boyan Slat. He has raised $320 million in funding in order to make a large scale garbage-collecting coastline in the water. These massive floating booms will sit on top of the water and collect trash much like a beach.


Bio Design Proposal – Damon, Michael, Jennifer, & Will


1.) Mycelium Warehouse Islands – The community that we are targeting for this concept are Cannabis Companies and Environmentalists. Since this is an all organic solution, we believe that sustainability is a key point to this project for which both targeted communities would love to jump on.

link: https://www.ecovativedesign.com

This project could have social and political impacts on the cannabis community across the nation. If companies were willing to invest in ocean-saving-islands rather than purchasing large amounts of land in California, then it could easily shine some positive light on the future of cannabis in our country.

2.) Mycelium charging stations – The community that we are targeting for this concept is the general public in large cities. We are trying to provide free self sufficient charging stations so that people could have easy access for keeping their electronics alive.

link: https://powertower.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwv73VBRCdARIsAOnG8u19PA2xvHRgrguk3pNl0vPfAR8HE6F7_mO-xDBC95z-qYe0AsADPv0aAh1CEALw_wcB

This project would have a lot of ethic and social impact. The idea of having charging stations throughout a large city would create a place where people would hang out while they are waiting for their phones to charge. I once saw this idea implemented in a festival and although the space was filled with some impatient people waiting to charge, it did create a space where people were engaging in conversation.

Brain Storming for BDC – Damon Amato


1.) Mycelium Chair – could have a heartbeat sensor and made decorative. May be able to calm down someone who is stressed out or just help someone lower their heart rate at the moment and relax.

2.) Mycelium bed frames

3.) Mycelium pod sensor that reads UV rays and tells you how much sunscreen to apply for that day

4.) Art Instillation that plays music and gives a light show depending on how the audience feels while watching. Heartbeat sensor?

5.) Art Instillation that paints bacteria-like patterns depending on the mood of music playing

6.) Mycelium Bike Seat

7.)  Mycelium headphones – wireless, easy to transport?

8.) public mycelium charging stations – solar power, low cost

9.) Cannabis oil pills re-invented – grow your own medicine, a type of kit that helps you make a low costing medicine

10.) Hemp Medicine Oil

11.) Sensor/object that senses potential life threatening bacteria in water

12.) small mycelium tents for homeless

13.) disposable mycelium city bikes

14.) mycelium dub ear plugs for festivals

15.) speculative/concept design on how the cannabis industry is reshaping California & the rest of the nation in the next 50 years

16.) backyard mycelium art instillation that controls lighting/music

17.) large sealed mycelium trash deposits to help get trash off the streets in big cities

18.) scanner/sensor that identifies bacterias/viruses at airports – similar to a metal detector at TSA

19.) Designer Mycelium shoes with a big brand – promote healthier living & organic material use

20.) Bio Material clothes for homeless

Pusle Sensor – Damon Amato & Lisette Borja

For our project we wanted to make a system that would choose sounds/songs out of a playlist depending on the heart rate that the pulse sensor reads. To do so, we had our arduino board communicate with a patch we made in MAXMSP. Depending if your hear rate fits in a certain ratio, a specific song/sound will auto loop from the playlist. I chose to breathe heavily to spike up my heartbeat for the documentation.

Here is a closer look at our circuit:

The code for max:

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