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Richard Maltzman
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Bioretention Part 3: The Maker Movement

Categories: makermovement

In Parts 1 and 2 of this multipart post, I focused on a local bioretention project near my temporary home in Washington DC.  Please read those short posts to get oriented.  That said, I know you won’t do that right now, so here is a quick refresher on bioretention.  It’s a three-minute video, and I know you can do that!


Okay, so now that you know what bioretention is all about, let’s catch you up with Part 2’s content in which I invervewed Volker Janssen from Limnotech and we discussed the collection of data in his project, and the idea of crowdsourcing the collection of data.

Turns out, there are growing communities out there who are helping us understand our environment a little better, literally from the grass roots.

An example:  is a community for do-it-yourself environmental science and monitoring.

It is part of which is a web toolkit designed to help citizens, conservation practitioners, municipal decision-makers, researchers, educators, and students advance knowledge and stewardship of fresh water.

And this in turn is part of which has this mission: “we seek to advance knowledge and stewardship of freshwater systems through global research, education, and watershed restoration”.

Both of the above are part of Stroud™ Water Research Center.  Their mission:

Stroud™ Water Research Center is overcoming the obstacles to large near-real-time data collection networks by using Arduino, an open source electronics platform. We are sharing our experiences building wireless sensor networks in an online community, so that anyone can replicate and implement their own versions of our instrumentation. To follow our progress and share your experiences, visit

That led me to research Arduino and it’s amazing.   It also changed the whole theme of this post, although if you are patient enough, this will come back full-circle to talk about water flow…


As to Arduino, watch this TED talk about it:

It’s really about the “Maker Movement” which could be a FOURTH post in this series but I’m not going there.  I do, however, encourage project managers and my colleagues in academia to pay attention to this Maker Movement because it is such a powerhouse of innovation and project launches.

When you see the video, note the reference to the crowdsourced data collection related to the Fukashima nuclear disaster.  Think about how something like that could conceivably be used to help us pinpoint epicenters and spread of COVID-19.

Actually… we don’t have to think about it.  Here’s an article from Bloomberg or Scientific American about that exact topic!

And check this out:

You will find ideas here in their “Tech for Care” segment about assisting in the solution (vaccine for COVID-19) but also the very human element of innovating to provide an interactive robot video ‘butler’ that helps patients connect with their families and friends.

They did it by smooshing (it’s a technical word – look it up!) together a Roomba, an ipad and a tripod (and of course some other hardware and software) to make this robot.

Everything here is open source.

No patents, permissions, privacy of ideas.   If you want to build on something you find here – just do it.

Watch this robot in action here:

Excited?  Want to try this yourself?  Try #HACKTHEPANDEMIC – go to this site: and you can download the STL files (3D printing format), as well as all sorts of info and instruction and background on producing/modifying the much-needed N95 mask.  Their rationale: NanoHack was inspired by a great global pandemic. The most radical innovations are born from crises, which is why NanoHack is a unique design.

By the way: it’s called Copper3D because (read about it in this article from Smithsonian magazine) copper has some surprising (good) traits when it comes to coronavirus.  Bottom line: the virus doesn’t live very long at all when it lands on copper. To quote the author of the article, “copper zapped the virus within minutes while it remained infectious for five days on surfaces such as stainless steel or glass”.

Or, to bring this back full-circle, here is a video to close the loop.  It’s about automatic watering of a garden… excellent effort by this gentleman, Grady Hillhouse!

Posted by Richard Maltzman on: June 21, 2020 11:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Information is not knowledge,
Knowledge is not wisdom,
Wisdom is not truth,
Truth is not beauty,
Beauty is not love,
Love is not music
and Music is THE BEST

- Frank Zappa