Floating Islands 2017 - 2018

In the fall of 2017, the science department was approached by some members of the Newton community who are interested in the water quality at Crystal Lake. The city of Newton had distributed a request for proposals from students to research and design floating islands that could potentially remove excess nutrients / pollutants from the water at Crytal Lake to prevent future water quality problems.
In the course of writing a proposal for this project, we received hard copies of historical water quality data. We have put all of this data into excel to see if we could determine trends in nutrient or bacteria levels at the various locations tested around the lake.

Historical Data Analysis:
We have plotted historical data from 2013 to 2017.

Floating Islands Presentation (2).jpgFloating Islands Presentation.jpg

Potential Floating Island Suppliers:

Floating Islands International: The Floating Islands International website has a wealth of information about how floating islands work, as well as research studies conducted using their Biohaven(R) technology. Their floating islands are made of non-toxic recycled plastic, and have demonstrated significant reduction in nitrogen and phosphorous when installed in lakes and stormwater runoff ponds.

Biomatrix Water: The Biomatrix Water website also contains a wealth of information about how floating islands work, complete with many diagrams and photos of floating islands in action. Biomatrix provides a range of floating island materials, all of which are based on their "tough float" system and contain stainless steel connecting hardware. Their 2D system consists of a coir (coconut fiber) substrate, which is biodegradable. Their 3D and 4D systems utilize a non-biodegradable matrix with a multi-layer planting media.
Floating Wetland Solutions
Floating Wetland Solutions is probably the closest domestic potential supplier, and provides a variety of products for natural water purification. One such product is unique solution that is a floating wetland, rather than a floating island. The floating wetland is submerged below the surface of the water, so that the structure itself is not immediately visible. The floating wetland is populated with aquatic plants, and can remain in the water during cold weather. More information about these floating wetlands is summarized in the attached brochure. FWS standard floating wetlands are available in 5'X8' sections that cost ~ $700 for the substrate alone. Photos of FWS floating islands and floating wetlands are shown below. More information can be found on their website.

Online Work 2014-2015

Go here to see updates on our work on the website, facebook page, and twitter.

“When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when the others make it after you.” Picasso

In GNRG 201, students will immerse themselves in design thinking protocols to tackle local and global issues with greengineers inspired solutions. Monthly green-thematic design challenges include: water, eco-nomics, soil, material engineering, net zero living, etc.

Introducing Design Thinking theory and practice. In GNRG 201, students will immerse themselves in Stanford University's and IDEO's design thinking protocols to tackle local and global issues with greengineering inspired solutions. Semester based themes driven by monthly green-thematic design challenges include: water, eco-nomics, soil, material engineering, net zero living,

Seven core values drive the class:

  • Student Centric Approach - students develop their personal design process
  • Prototyping Culture - enlightened trial-and-error as a companion to intelligent planning
  • Human-Centered Design - establishing user-empathy, even from extreme physical and cultural distance
  • Radical Collaboration - students, faculty, partners, and advocates work in and through a entrepreneurial model
  • Integrated Solutions - bringing together technology, business, and human values
  • Tackling Seemingly Impossible Problems - working in an environment where anything is possible
  • Process Mindfulness - a reliable sequence of creative tools is used to create that “ah-ha!” moment

Students apply design, engineering, and consulting skills to create comprehensive solutions for challenges faced by communities far and wide. Multi-disciplinary student teams collaboratively design products and process prototypes, implementation plans, and user experiences as solutions.

In this advanced ‘green-design’ course, students will build on the experience, skills, and projects covered throughout our Engineering and Design courses. They will be expected to work independently on design solutions and take more responsibility as chief engineers and business leaders.

Greengineering 201, is a 21st century classroom that offers students project-based, research driven, collaborative learning.

Mission #2 (RDC) - Oct

How might we improve the experience for new students, visitors, and guests at NNHS?

Mission #2 Logistics
Friday 9/27
Tuesday 10/1
Wed 10/2
Thursday 10/3
Friday 10/4
Intro to mission
Initial observations / interviews
review Interviewing 101
questions creation

resume observations/interviews
tell stories
find patterns/anomalies

new questions
new answers

think - "products, services, spaces, experiences"
"rougly" prototypes

user feedback

refine prototype

Tues 10/8
Wed 10/9
Thurs 10/10
Friday 10/11

Review Prototype Process
Start prototype
no class
Tues 10/15
Wed 10/16
Thursday 10/17
Friday 10/18

Refine prototype
initial feedback
present - big feedback/evaluate

10/22-26 - team presentations, what's your narrative?
feedback plan? reality check!!! all week...

statement of need or
full scale??????

Mission #1

Discover social innovation in action

Debrief of Mission #1
Tues 9/24
Wed 9/25
Thurs 9/26
Fri 9/27
17 Reasons discussion

We'll examine the
IDEO design process through
our short list of
secrets and strategies,
along with a few other collected
design and innovation insights
discussion question,

"will our design lab work
be motivated by
process or problem?"

market driven v. design driven
Rapid Design Challenge


Tuesday 9/10
Wed 9/11
Thurs 9/12
Friday 9/13
Tues 9/17
mission briefed
short list of social innovators
then pick one to focus your inquiry
dig deeper and go beyond
the obvious. Tell the story.
secrets of the social innovators

Mission Brief


Pop Sci Innovators

Room to Read

Skoll Foundation


The following "Belief to Action" chart is from Schlectey, Inventing Betting Schools, and Hullfish and Smith’s, Reflective Thinking











Actions are taken
Goals are pursued
Missions are accomplished
Visions are realized
Beliefs are followed
Belief is the willingness to act as though it were true
Vision is what we see because of what we believe. Visions are not realistic they are inspiring.
Mission is the bundle of Goals that need to be un-bundled in order to Act and do something.

Sinek’s Start with Why

People don’t buy what you sell, they buy why you sell it.external image Enna57bHHqO5bwa7VBMxO1HQzrdwniZTaPF3-dInxIyKB_RIzxGMev25c6vcPeIJUh7h7jJkRKOfUZKPhNeZw0_sp-BV7gze7uDKE9H75pjIyULSM9A

Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

IDEO Deep Dive Shopping Cart part1

Ideo Shopping cart part2

IDEO Shopping Cart part3

201 Bootcamp Deep Dive #1 = Composting?!?!?!

201 GNRG Design Lab Projects:

Playground Power