Aqua-Pods

Our team of 4 created a simplistic, yet innovative way to solve one of the world's most pressing issues - water scarcity.

Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
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Website or social media url(s) (optional):

https://www.facebook.com/Aqua-Pods-1626995037362734/

Date You Started Your Project Started

Oct/17/2017 This is when the idea first came to us, since then we have continued extensive experiments, research, development.

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Our project is addressing the problem of the biggest water wastage in human water cycle on a global scale. Research and studies by UN and other agencies have shown that out of the 4 trillion m^3 of freshwater used per year, 75% is for agriculture and irrigation purposes. 50% of it goes to waste due over watering, evaporation, wind, and runoff. With water being such an essential part of sustaining our environment, we must reduce it's wastage.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

After brainstorming, researching, and discussing with experts like Master Gardeners and local nurseries, I came up with an innovative solution for the problem of water wastage associated with gardening and agriculture, called Aqua-Pods -- biodegradable sponges that are held inside pockets of cylindrical attachments lined with a weed sheet. The plant grows inside this attachment. When we water the plant, Aqua-Pods soak up the excess water, and when the plant needs water, the sponges release the previously absorbed water to the plants (using osmosis). I have conducted an experiment over 6 weeks and it successfully proves that the soil with Aqua-Pods has higher moisture content, and also retains water for a much longer period. The data shows that Aqua-Pods provides 3X water savings. Even if Aqua-Pods makes a difference by 1%, 8 billion m^3 of water is saved, which is more than the current global freshwater shortage. In addition, studies have shown that plants grow best in fertile soil – with optimal pH value, and high nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate levels. Aqua-Pods contain natural ingredients like coffee grounds, potato and banana peels that have proven to increase soil fertility

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

We all know that water is crucial to life, nature and sustainability. As humans inhabiting this magnificent plant, it is our duty to make sure future generations can enjoy it as well, and the first and most important step to sustainability is to reduce the wastage of water. Luckily, we have Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to help us! There are a few different STEM aspects to Aqua-Pods. This includes the fundamental scientific phenomenon of osmosis which allows the water initially soaked up by the Aqua-Pod sponge, a semi-permeable material, to be released to the plant when needed. This reduces water evaporation, and individuals don't have to worry about over-watering. Science also shows that natural ingredients such as potato peels and coffee grounds help fertilize soil and result in the optimal pH level for plant wellness. In order to create a prototype, we used the engineering design process to make the ideal contraption which could easily slide in and out of a variety of pots, and can hold several Aqua-Pod sponges. Using engineering, we were able to create different Aqua-Pod models to adhere to various environments from at-home gardening to large plantations.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

In middle school, I was president of my school’s environmental club. We were responsible for watering our school’s trees during the year. While watering these plants, I started to realize how much water was wasted. We would pour buckets of water for these trees, never knowing when we were over watering, and half of that water would be evaporated. Around the same time, I learned about the scientific phenomenon of osmosis – the movement of water from a region of high concentration to a region of low concentration, which results in an equal balance of concentration in both regions. This phenomenon always fascinated me and stuck in the back of my mind. While growing up, I occasionally helped with gardening and learned that my parents would use their tea bags as a soil fertilizer and balance the pH level. As a culmination of these learnings and experiences, the idea of Aqua-Pods was born.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

We used the business model and engineering design process. After identifying the area of largest water consumption, we brainstormed solutions to reduce water wastage like recycling home water, developing special soil, and eventually came up with Aqua-Pods. After positive results from competitive analysis and extensive experiments, discussions and feedback from industry experts & the community, we finalized the idea and created a fully functional prototype and filed for a provisional patent.

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Compared to existing solutions, Aqua-Pods offers a unique advantage of containing natural ingredients, like grounded coffee, potato and banana peels which increases fertility by adding potassium, phosphate, and nitrogen and providing an optimal pH value. Existing solutions, such as Hydrogels are effective in water retention, but are toxic and not suitable for plants. We have used the business model canvas and competitive analysis to make sure that our product is cost effective and better than existing solutions. We are currently have sales in person & Amazon and have several paying customers.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

In the past three months, we have conducted a 6-week long experiment (in spring) to test the effectiveness of Aqua-Pods compared to normal soil. We have repeated this experiment over the past few years in different seasons to collect solid data. These extensive experiments continuously yield very positive results, as the plant with Aqua-Pods needed 3x less water to maintain the same moisture level, achieved the optimal pH value & quadrupled fertility. We have also done market trials and analysis by handing out around 30 of our Aqua-Pods to community members in order to receive feedback. Aqua-Pods are currently in use across the nation and in certain parts of the world - we have received positive responses. In addition, We have talked to local nurseries and gardening shops who all agree that Aqua-Pods are the right step forward and would be willing to partner with us to sell Aqua-Pods.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Aqua-Pods is a scalable solution and we plan to target a global consumer base across all agricultural market segments to make a positive impact in the world. We would like to reduce the manufacturing cost, which is currently $2, in order to make this even more cost-effective. Another step forward would be to build a strong brand and team to market this effective solution and also begin to mass produce Aqua-Pods. As a Corporate Social Responsibility component, we plan on distributing Aqua-Pods to countries which suffer from severe water scarcity. According to the UN around 700 million people in 43 countries suffer today from water scarcity, and I believe Aqua-Pods is the best step forward to save water.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

As president of my middle school environmental club, known as the Greenkeepers Club, I organized an annual Earth Day event where we shared a variety of ideas to promote environmental sustainability. I introduced games and informational booths like Rank the Lightbulbs, Earth Jeopardy, and our Green Clean Pledge, which catered to over 1000 students. We have also shared the idea of Aqua-Pods at several local events, as well as families of farmers and domestic gardeners to get their feedback.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We can have other Changemakers involved with sharing the idea of Aqua-Pods in their own communities, and raise awareness about the important benefits. Utilizing social media platforms to not only encourage home gardening, but also effective water consumption with the idea of Aqua-Pods. As a group of like-minded individuals, we can start a national, if not global environment sustainability campaign to share ideas such as Aqua-Pods and inspire others to innovate for greater good.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

First, by utilizing social media platforms and encouraging home gardeners to cut down on their most wasteful water consumption - word of mouth will be incredibly powerful. We can look to feature our product at Farmer’s Markets and home gardening sites, pages, and magazines. The testimonies and published research & statistics will speak for themselves! Another important step forward will be to get Aqua-Pods on other avenues of online sales (Amazon for various countries), and other sites.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Sales
  • Mentors/advisors

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Email

Evaluation results

57 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 83.9%

Probably - 10.7%

Maybe - 5.4%

Probably not - 0%

No - 0%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 75%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 19.6%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 1.8%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 1.8%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 1.8%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 70.2%

4 - Yes, I think so - 26.3%

3 - Maybe - 1.8%

2 - Probably not. - 0%

1 - No - 1.8%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 100%

4 - Yes, I think so - 29.3%

3 - Maybe - 9.8%

2 - Probably not - 2.4%

1 - No - 2.4%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 68.4%

4 - Yes, I think so - 24.6%

3 - Maybe - 3.5%

2 - Probably not - 1.8%

1 - No - 1.8%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 67.4%

4- Yes, I think so - 18.6%

3- Maybe - 11.6%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 2.3%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 89.2%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 100%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 81.1%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 78.4%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 81.1%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 81.1%

Other option - 8.1%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 8.7%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 13%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 34.8%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 26.1%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 34.8%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 47.8%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 100%

Other option - 4.3%

46 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of sherri
Team

Excellent post of today !! I am just surprised after see this website and making a plan to discuss this in my group and hope my friends will enjoy too ..
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Photo of TEENS STEAM
Team

Really innovative solution that has the potential to save water and help the environment. Impressed to see the use of STEM in solving real world problems

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you - we really value your encouraging comment!

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Photo of Samridhi Wadhwa
Team

Amazing idea! It's interesting to see how much water can be saved if we resolve these issues, and provide more nutrional soil for plants. This idea not only talks about how it resolves those, but also provides more awareness to people regarding over watering, run off and other reasons for water wastage in agricultural industry. I'm very excited to see how this product can be marketed so it can be used globally. Also, wondering the different types of Aqua-Pods that can be produced based on different types of plants.
Great work! Thank you for sharing this idea with us!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thanks Samridhi Wadhwa for your comment and question! We are currently selling Aqua-Pods on Amazon (US) but hope to go global in the near future. We have started Aqua-Pods with finely grounded coffee beans which make soils more acidic, dried potato peels helping with phosphate levels and dried banana peels containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. All of these nutrients help with plant growth and helps with the resistance of diseases. Based on the soil type and the plant's needs, customers can use a combination of Aqua-Pods. For example, if they have alkaline soil and want added nutrients to aid in plant wellness, they can use our coffee bean and dried banana peel Aqua-Pods. We plan to expand the variety of our pods by using other natural ingredients including dried raw seaweed (for nitrogen), straw/glauconite (greensand - for potash), and almonds/lima beans (for alkaline based soil).

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Photo of Sandeep Kumar
Team

Superb scientific and practical application of osmosis to solve a real world problem by these high school students! Well done and this has a huge potential to address a much larger universal problem. Congrats!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thanks for giving our project a read and for this encouraging comment! We strongly believe that Aqua-Pods is the right step forward to solve the universal water shortage.

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Photo of Tarun Wadhwa
Team

Need of the time and very practically done.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you for learning about Aqua-Pods - we are thrilled you like our innovation solution to water scarcity!

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Photo of Disha Manocha
Team

Amazing effort ! Kudos

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you Disha Manocha :)

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Photo of AMBER DWIVEDI
Team

Great

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thanks!

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Photo of Amisha Wadhwa
Team

It was really interesting to see that the most water wastage occurs in agricultural use/ home gardening, which was not typically what one would expect. Clearly a lot of research and development has occurred. Great job team!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Yes, the water wastage in agricultural use/home gardening is something not many people would think of, but it is a major contributor to the global issue of water scarcity! Thanks for learning about our solution of Aqua-Pods :)

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Photo of Amit Wadhwa
Team

Very innovative idea to solve water shortage problem of the world! Good Job!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you so much!

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Photo of vrinda sehgal
Team

Very innovative solution to the real world problem of water scarcity.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you so much - we hope to end the global water shortage with the mass usage of Aqua-Pods!

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Photo of Lea Shagiakhmetova
Team

This looks really interesting! I like that your putting your attention towards minimizing water use in agriculture, since most freshwater is used specifically for that purpose.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thanks for learning about Aqua-Pods - we really appreciate it! Together we can make the planet more sustainable :)

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Photo of Team WeSense
Team

Wonderful idea! This seems like a very well thought out and timely executed solution to a major problem in our current society! The incorporation of experimentation, effective marketing, and usage of natural resources are all wonderful aspects which help solidify this project’s viability in helping solve water scarcity. I am wondering though, with the sponges, nutrients, and the pod, what is the approximate lifetime of this product? Are the pods easily replaceable or does the reliance on simple osmosis make these pods suitable for growth for long periods of time? The use of the engineering design process is incredible and I hope that further outreach and usage of the water pods can help decrease water usage and make our planet a greener place.
Thanks for sharing, and I look forward to successful development of Aqua Pod!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thanks Team WeSense for learning about Aqua-Pods and the encouraging comment! We recommend our users to replace Aqua-Pods every 6 months and for large scale agriculture, every crop cycle to ensure optimal results. We have conducted an experiment over the course of 3 months and the sponges had minimal deterioration. Our specially designed patented attachment allows for easy replacement of the pods. We wish you great success with the EcoEye App and the rest of your project!

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Photo of Nikita Anand
Team

Very innovative & informative!
Great job.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you for taking time to learn about Aqua-Pods!

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Photo of Payal Kohli
Team

Water shortage is the most important matter of concern nowadays & it sincerely needed to b taken care off .very good research done on it & a very innovative idea to solve the issue .Good work team !!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Yes, Payal Kohli , we completely agree that water shortage is a very pressing issue which has major consequences on the entire world, and we believe that Aqua-Pods can solve that issue. Thanks for your insightful and encouraging comment - really appreciate it! 

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Photo of Kathy
Team

Love the idea!  The benefits of this solution will benefit everyone in their daily life.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you Kathy ! We are glad you liked our project, and we hope that Aqua-Pods can make a lasting positive impact on the world!

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Photo of Alexander Forchette
Team

This is an amazing product, and one that can and will make a huge impact on the world! I love your passion for STEM, and infectious changemaker personality. Keep it up, and you will lead your generation to a brighter tomorrow. The Aqua-Pods are very innovative, especially with the addition of natural ingredients to help with soil nutrients. However, I am curious how you plan to scale this product to large agricultural facilities. I like the idea of individual pot sized pods lined with a weed sheet for at home use, but what is you approach for farmers who are tending to 100+ acres of land? Your use of the business plan and engineering design process is commendable. Aqua-Pods has all the characteristics of a great, environmentally-friendly product that takes a big step towards a more sustainable future. Great job, and thank you!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Alexander Forchette - Thank you so much for reading about our project and providing your comment and question – we really appreciate it! We have designed custom modules to specifically meet the needs of various agricultural market segments – from domestic to nurseries to farmlands. For at-home and small-scale gardening/nurseries we have an attachment lined with weed-sheet with pockets for Aqua-Pods. As for large agricultural lands, we plan to have long cylindrical contraptions which can be placed underground at regular intervals. Each of these cylinders will hold several Aqua-Pods to deliver nutrients and moisture to the entire land. Feel free to check out slide #6 of the presentation attached with our entry for some visuals and more detailed information :)

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Photo of Alexander Forchette
Team

Great, thanks for the response!

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Photo of Simi Malik
Team

I love the idea,..Are these Awua pods available on Amazon(India ).I like your concern to minimize the use of water in agriculture, if possible freshwater can be saved and cultivation will become possible in the areas facing water scarcity problem.Future leaders will be able to make earth green once again, coz like you many young change maker must be looking forward to see green mothr earth.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you Simi Malik , we are glad you liked our idea to solve the issue of water scarcity! Currently, Aqua-Pods are available on Amazon (US) but we plan to go global in the near future and bring Aqua-Pods to various countries all around the world (including India!) to make as big of an impact as possible :)  

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Photo of Anneke Nijmeijer
Team

This is a really well done concept with proven effective results. My favorite point was the comparison of the water shortage currently to the amount of water that could be saved with aquapods, justifying a mass usage. The scientific process was clear and allowed for a gradual and easy understanding for the reader.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thank you Anneke Nijmeijer for taking time to learn about our project we are glad you liked it! We believe the data speaks for itself - with a mass usage of Aqua-Pods we will be able to solve the current global water shortage :)

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Photo of M Monika Kapoor
Team

Great topic chosen for your research. Water shortage is a global issue. Fresh water makes up less than 3% of all water on earth where more than half of this drinkable water is tied up in glaciers. Very innovative idea put forward by the Team to demonstrate a way to save water. Well done ! 

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Great point M Monika Kapoor ! Despite the Earth being made up of 70% of water, only 2.5% is freshwater and only 1% of water is easily accessible. Therefore, we must do everything in our capability to conserve water and we strongly believe that Aqua-Pods is the right step forward to do so!

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Photo of Olivia
Team

It never occurred to me that so much fresh water is wasted. I think this idea is really creative, it’s cool that the project uses the principles water potential to save water. I also thought it was cool that you are using biodegradable products to improve soil conditions.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Olivia , thanks for your comment! The wastage of water often seems to go unnoticed and through Aqua-Pods we hope to not only solve the pressing global issue of water scarcity, but also encourage individuals to be more attentive to their water usage. We also love to opt for the eco-friendly options hence the biodegradable sponges & fertilizers as they minimize environmental pollution!

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Photo of Bharti Aggarwal
Team

With years of drought in California, I have limited the number of house hold plants in my house. With the innovative aqua pods design, water �� consumption is low and is a no brainer solution.

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Bharti Aggarwal thanks for your comment! Yes, the most severe drought in California lasted 8 whole years, and almost half of CA is still considered to be in a moderate drought! With Aqua-Pods we hope that no area ever has to be in drought again.

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Photo of Manoj
Team

Bought Auqapods from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0779LP67W), I am watering less often and my plants are healthier. Innovative idea and product!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thanks Manoj for using Aqua-Pods and providing your feedback - together we can solve the global issue of water scarcity!

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Photo of Taylor Fitzgerald
Team

Wow, what a great solution!  My one question is, is there a way to tell when the sponge portion of the aqua-pod is dry? Once the soil is dry, the sponge releases its excess moisture, but is there a way the user will know that the sponge is now dry and it is time to water again?  The scientific approach that you have used in evaluating the aqua-pods showed that this is not only a great idea, but is a viable solution to water scarcity. Great job, this was a lot of fun to learn about!

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Photo of Aarushi Wadhwa
Team

Thanks Taylor Fitzgerald for your comment and question - we really appreciate you taking time to read about our project! We plan to have a moisture meter integrated into our attachment, and the user can easily read the moisture level and water the plant accordingly.