Look, Ask, Learn, Try

IMG_5237.JPGIMG_5243.JPGOur project involves gardening and planting seeds, so I decided that volunteering at the emerging Grow House in Phoenix would be a good opportunity to learn more about gardening. At Grow House they are trying to transform the land and make it more fertile by planting multiple rows of sunflowers in the vacant lot.

look: what are people doing and saying?

At first I observed the vacant lot and it’s appearance. The soil looked dry at first before any gardening was done. I don’t have much prior gardening experience, so I was a bit doubtful as to whether they would be able to plant and successfully grow sunflowers there. The project leaders said that they have previously successfully grown sunflowers at the first Grow House and at the Valley of Sunflowers in Phoenix because sunflowers are able to grow quite well in the Arizona weather and they do not need really special conditions.
ask: elicit feedback or participation from someone in regards to your project idea

I asked the leaders of the Grow House group about our project and they explained how it is important to make sure that the moisture of the seed packet that we are designing is kept at the right level. They also said that most of the soil in Phoenix Arizona has high calcium carbonate levels  and is mostly composed of clay. Therefore, the soil is very alkaline. Also another aspect of Phoenix is that the water is quite alkaline and salty  which compounds the Ph problem. In addition, the Phoenix soil lacks organic materials, which reduces the quality of the soil structure.
try: simulate or participate in an activity yourself


At the Grow House Volunteer day I helped distribute mulch/compost in horizontal rows across the lot. I used a shovel to take mulch from big piles and then I distributed it into a straight row that was designated using a measured string. Then after the row was created, the string was pulled out, revealing a neat row.  The mulch/ compost was then mixed with the already existent earth using a special machine. This will improve the quality of the soil and allow the sunflowers to grow in the previously low quality soil.

learn: identify ‘thoughtless acts’, patterns, problems, or opportunities. you can learn from what you observed in context, or you might do a quick search to find related information online.


I learned more about the process of gardening. One of the most important things that I learned was about the quality of Phoenix soil and some of the difficulties present when trying to grow and harvest something in Phoenix. A problem is that it is hard to determine the quality of present earth, therefore sometimes even adding compost or fertilizer will not guarantee the success of growth because every part of land and environmental situation is different. Therefore, adding sensors to seed packets to monitor conditions such as pH and moisture is so essential because it allows the grower to adjust to their specific circumstance.

Inez Binkiewicz


Inez Binkiewicz

Kombucha, fashion, food science

  1. Kombucha scoby lunch bag
  2. Kombucha face mask for polluted air
  3. Kombucha bandage
  4. Kombucha face mask skincare
  5. Kombucha writing paper

Immune system, personal genetics, cancer

  1. 3d printed organs
  2. 3d printed bone parts
  3. 3d visual/ animation of possible offspring visuals based on genetic traits
  4. 3d visual representation of possible future illnesses
  5. 3d printed skin

Sensing, public health

  1. in-house self-adjusting humidifier
  2. in-house self-adjusting lighting
  3. heart beat sensing bracelet
  4. pulse sensing bracelet
  5. room air quality sensor

DIYbio/ DIY incubator

  1. take house kombucha cultivation kit
  2. plant that creates shade by adjusting to sunlight
  3. plant that filters air
  4. plant that makes sure that the air is not too dry by releasing water mist into the air
  5. a plant that changes color due to sunlight




Transistor and Heat

For my project I used a lilypad and capacitive sensing to trigger a heating pad to turn on. Once the heating pad got hot enough heat sensitive fabric changed color. The heat sensitive fabric changed from pink to yellow as a reaction to the heat.

Inez Binkiewicz

Here is the code:


Here is the system:




Capacitive Sensing

Inez Binkiewicz

For my capacitive sensing project I used a lemon to conduct sensing. I also tried to use kombucha scoby that I cultivated, but it did not work.

This is my code:

#include <CapacitiveSensor.h>
* CapitiveSense Library Demo Sketch
* Paul Badger 2008
* Uses a high value resistor e.g. 10M between send pin and receive pin
* Resistor effects sensitivity, experiment with values, 50K – 50M. Larger resistor values yield larger sensor values.
* Receive pin is the sensor pin – try different amounts of foil/metal on this pin
int ledPin = 9;

CapacitiveSensor cs_4_2 = CapacitiveSensor(4,2); // 10M resistor between pins 4 & 2, pin 2 is sensor pin, add a wire and or foil if desired
void setup()
pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
//cs_4_2.set_CS_AutocaL_Millis(0xFFFFFFFF); // turn off autocalibrate on channel 1 – just as an example

void loop()
long start = millis();
long total1 = cs_4_2.capacitiveSensor(30);
Serial.print(total1); // print sensor output 1

if(total1> 100 ){
digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);
digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW);

//delay(500); // arbitrary delay to limit data to serial port

Here is the kombucha scoby:




Here is a video of the capacitive sensing using a lemon:




Analog Sensor: Stroke Sensor

Inez Binkiewicz



I made a stroke sensor that involved using conductive thread, resistive thread, conductive fabric, base fabric, and a Led. I used felt as a base fabric because of its thickness and sturdiness, which allowed the threads to stay in place and not move around. I first cut two strips of conductive fabric and sewn it to the fabric base using conductive thread. I then altered the conductive thread that I had previously used to attach the conductive fabric in order to create frills or hairs that stood out of the base fabric on the other side. After that, I used resistive thread and created the same kind of hair effect in the middle of the base fabric strip, where there was no attached conductive fabric. I made a loop design with the resistive thread in order to cover more surface area, which made it easier to have the conductive and resistive thread make contact. When I stroked the threads, having the conductive thread touch the resistive I essentially connected the circuit which as a response lit up the lilypad led which was also connected to the conductive fabric via conductive thread. I want to expand on this project and create an interactive toy or teddy bear, which would cause a series of LEDs to light up via a stroke sensor. This sensor can be implemented in even very small objects as it only requires a small coin cell battery connected to the sensor via conductive thread to power the LED.

Below is a diagram that shows how the stroke sensor works.

Code from class:

int analogPin =AO;
int ledPin =9;
void setup() {
// put your setup code here, to run once:
pinMode(analogPin, INPUT);
pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
// put your main code here, to run repeatedly:
int value = analogRead(analogPin);
int ledValue = map (value, 0, 1023, 0, 255);
analogWrite(ledPin, ledValue);

LilyPad Arduino Fabric Soft Switch

Inez Binkiewicz

For my project, I made a switch using LilyPad Arduino, alligator clips,  2 LEDs,  and conductive fabric. When the LEDs connected via alligator clips came into contact with the conductive fabric they turned the switch on and the LED would light up. Not closing the circuit loop would not turn the switch on and therefore not turn the LED on.

Here is a video of the created switch:


I used the example Button Code provided in Arduino Examples:

const int buttonPin = 2; // the number of the pushbutton pin
const int ledPin = 13; // the number of the LED pin
// Pin 13: Arduino has an LED connected on pin 13
// Pin 11: Teensy 2.0 has the LED on pin 11
// Pin 6: Teensy++ 2.0 has the LED on pin 6
// Pin 13: Teensy 3.0 has the LED on pin 13

// variables will change:
int buttonState = 0; // variable for reading the pushbutton status

void setup() {
// initialize the LED pin as an output:
pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);
// initialize the pushbutton pin as an input:
pinMode(buttonPin, INPUT);

void loop(){
// read the state of the pushbutton value:
buttonState = digitalRead(buttonPin);

// check if the pushbutton is pressed.
// if it is, the buttonState is HIGH:
if (buttonState == HIGH) {
// turn LED on:
digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);
else {
// turn LED off:
digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW);