Holocene 911*

Vensim Model

Emily Cudhea-Pierce

This is a model I made on Vensim. Vensim is a modeling software. The model shows how the main aspects of selling, buying, growing, and distribution of cactus are related. The goal was to figure out how much cactus would have to be produced in order for the business to become profitable. 

Though the model looks complicated and confusing from afar, a closer look will reveal that each individual connection makes sense. Look at the "Welfare" graph. If the supply is high and the price is low, the people are happy. If the supply is low and the price is high, the people are unhappy. As some of the current stock of cactus decay, the profit goes down. The amount in the stock is determined by the demand and supply, and the amount of stock determines the sales. The stock has a decay, surplus and deficit, meaning that after the growing season some of the cactus is stored. Some of the cactus is lost (decay) some is extra (surplus). Sales in tons are converted to profit in dollars. Profit is determined by the sales and the price of cactus and decreased by the cost of growing the cactus and the cactus lost during the year due to varying factors. 

Before and After

Riley Nelson

Process - Stages of Pump

Klara Ingersoll

Climate change, caused by carbon emission into the atmosphere and a thickened ozone layer is warming the temperature of the globe. This is causing the ocean temperature to get warmer as well.

Hurricanes are able to increase their intensity and become more damaging when they hover over hot spots in the ocean. If the ocean surface temperature is 25.6 degrees C than a hurricane can pick up wind speed and intensity. The worst hurricanes the U.S has experienced in the past century have been so bad because they picked up speed in the hot spots in the Gulf of Mexico.

If we can cool these hot spots before hurricanes travels over them, hurricanes will lose speed/intensity as oppose to gaining it. This will prevent storms to reach a such high intensity, preventing billions of dollars lost in damage cost and save many lives.

We started by researching hurricanes and determining our problem. We looked at the “Salters drain” that already existed, which moved cold water on top to the bottom. We then sketched multiple ideas for water movement, a drain and a pump. After making rough prototypes for each we settled on the pump idea because the drain was not efficient enough, and we didn’t even know if it was effective at all. Moving forward with the pump we started with a plastic bottle shape and then built off of that, adding a piston that moves up and down with a one way valve. We then added a divertor off the top to direct the water equally in all directions. We went through many prototypes because we struggled to get a prototype that would pump enough water.

Giancarlo simulated some scenarios for us and we found out that the only way the pump would work is if we used water that was around 23.5°C and if we could get it to travel 2.5 feet per second or faster.

We think that when this is put to scale this prototype will be successful. We can’t be one hundred percent sure because we did not have a way to simulate the waves how they appear in the ocean, but we are happy with the product that we made in the two week time span. We think that our general design can be applied to build a pump that would work on a full scale and reduce hurricane severity.


Riley Nelson

These are the notes I took before I started making the prototype to my filter.

Final Description

Emily Cudhea-Pierce

The goal of this project was to find a replacement for corn. Due to the drought that is happening and will continue to worsen over the coming years, the corn crop will suffer. This year, about 20% of the corn crop was lost due to drought, and that will be exacerbated as the drought continues. The idea that this project is based off of is the idea of using cactus to replace corn in cattle feed. The cactus would work because it needs less water to grow. Right now, it takes about 9.6 lbs of corn to get 1 lb of beef on the table. The corn crop's failure could impact a large part of American life.

To start out, Emily tried to create some recipes for humans using the cactus. Eventually, she decided that the taste of cactus was not as universally appealing as that of corn. She moved on to figuring out the economics and feasibility of using cactus as cattle feed. This seemed like a much more possible idea. She made Vensim models of the cactus economy to see how feasible the idea was. According model, they will have to grow approximately 68 million lbs of cactus in order to become profitable. 

Because of the amount of water saved in feeding cactus to cattle, up to 450 million gallons of fresh water could be saved every day. This would be very helpful in a drought.


Sam Favazza

The theory behind the studio was to make a filter that could remove salt and other contaminants from water.

The world is heating up and drought is severely effecting people, the filter we make must clean seawater for people living on the coast.

Use graphene, a membrane with pores small enough that only water molecules can fit through.

We started with writing pseudo code to help get the basic idea of what we wanted to simulate. The program was written in python which is a general-purpose, high-level programming language. The first feature we wanted the program to have was to create water with an amount of salinity, and pass it through a filter and be able to calculate how much salt is filtered out which we decided would be 98 percent. Other variables were added that could affect the efficiency of the filter including, pressure, volume, and area of graphene. We also added a way to know the lifetime of the filter, as the life reduces the efficiency of the filter goes down as well.

Data, Analysis, and Results:
The simulation  worked well although we did not know the qualities of graphene so the filter could not give accurate results.

Although the simulation did not simulate the graphene filter, the details of graphene could be applied and the simulation would operate perfectly.

Final Thoughts

Riley Nelson

        In this studio, we were tasked with coming up with a solution to combat climate change.  There were a few different aspects that we researched in the beginning, but in the end I decided to focus on the world's water issue.  I decided to create an affordable filter that desalinates water.  I was really interested in this idea because the concept of water has always fascinated me, and I know how big of a problem it is becoming.  Before beginning to prototype the filter, I knew I wanted it to be under $10 so low income families could afford it.  I also knew that I wanted it to let out zero emissions.  With this criteria in mind, I began designing my filter.

        There are three layers to the system.  A strainer to remove the bigger clumps of things, a ceramic filter to take out the live bacteria, and a sheet of graphene to desalinate the water.  The is also a bike pump attached to the top in order to pressurize the system.  Unfortunately, the nanoporous graphene is still being designed, so I was not able to incorporate that aspect into my design.

        The filter took about a week to make.  This stems from a myriad of reasons: the parts I ordered took a long time to be delivered, things broke or did not fit, and various engineering problems arose during the building process.  In the end, however, my prototype was able to filter a dirty puddle from the street into clean water (which somebody then drank).

        After the process of building was over, I realized there are a lot of technical and mechanical components that contribute in the building of the seemingly smallest things.  Although the prototype I made does not do its purpose of desalinating water, it does clean the water.  I think this is a good first step, and when the nanoporous graphene comes into full scale production the filter will do its proper job of desalination.  For now, I am very pleased that I was able to build a relatively inexpensive prototype (I estimated it cost around $15-$20).


Sam Favazza

The last couple of days were dedicated to writing all of the code that would simulate the water filter. The Simulation was written in python, a general-purpose, high-level programming language. First we started writing pseudo code to begin to understand all of the key features of the simulation. We then started writing the pseudo code in python and develop the calculations needed for the program. There were different pieces of the program to simulate different things including, the most important being “graphene layer” which would do the actual digital filtering. I had not had much experience with python before the studio so it was interesting to learn it from scratch.

Last Day

Riley Nelson

Today I just worked on finishing my powerpoint and practicing it.

Attached is the last photo I needed for my powerpoint.

Final Pump!

Klara Ingersoll

Our prototype is completed. The pump is working really well and the spray is consistent and equal on all sides thanks to our improved divertor. We are now finalizing our powerpoint and getting ready to present. I put together a short video of our pump working with a fully apropriate background song. Good job everyone.