Homepage 2, 2022

Aarushi and her Aqua-Pods! 

Partnering with the Nancy Ellen Crooks Foundation, Aarushi and her team donated Aqua-pods to Nairobi, Kenya during the pandemic in order to help sustain community gardens which are a primary source of food for rural villages. 
By Emma Kidger 

Senior Aarushi Wadhwa has put no time to waste with her innovative approach to solving water scarcity and plant overwatering. As the president of her environmental club in middle school and a frequent helper in her family’s garden, Aarushi saw how often overwatering occurred as well as the detrimental environmental impacts of overwatering. Aarushi quickly researched the issue, learning about the scientific phenomena of diffusion and osmosis, the movement of water from a region of high concentration to a region of low concentration. Her findings furthered her knowledge on water scarcity and began her curiosity on how she could fix it.

Noticing “brown is the new green” on almost every front lawn, Aarushi “wasn’t ready to accept that our state could not have flourishing green plants once again.” She notes, “I did not want brown to replace green forever.” So, she strove to find solutions to avoid water waste during California’s detrimental drought in 2017. Turning a 7th grade vision into reality, Aarushi created Aqua-pods: 100% plant-based biodegradable sponges which soaks up excess water in plants then distributes it when necessary. The sponge contains a proprietary blend of natural ingredients which increase soil fertility and lessen excessive water usage. 

Working alongside UC master gardeners and other local drought experts, Aqua-pods continues to expand as a brand. So far, Aqua-Pods has reached Nairobi, Kenya, and New Delhi, India— places that are facing extreme water scarcity.  Aarushi contrasts these scarce regions with disproportionate water waste: “1.2 Trillion cubic meters of water is wasted annually on plant overwatering.”

During the ‘trying to find hobbies’ phase of the early pandemic lockdown, gardening skyrocketed in popularity. Due to the increase in new gardeners, more plants led to more water usage. Watching this continuing trend, Aarushi emphasized how teaching communities how to avoid poor water usage through products like Aqua-Pods was more necessary than ever. Aarushi made sure to  educate her peers by “distributing infographics and donating dozens of Aqua-Pods to increase nutrients to crops and combat the issue of food insecurity.” 

When asked why it was so important that young people get involved with climate issues, Aarushi explains, “we are on the brink of a global environmental catastrophe and it’s up to our generation to prevent it if we want to preserve our planet for the future,” and included that “gen Z has already been instrumental in slowing the progression of climate change by raising awareness. Our generation is filled with activists and leaders who are creative.” While not everyone has to create renowned inventions to help avoid water wastage, Aarushi highly encourages everyone “to be more mindful of their water usage and wastage to see how they can do their part in conserving water.”   

Aarushi has recently won the Ashoka Changemaker “our planet, our purpose: STEM for Changemaking Challenge” for her genius creation of Aqua-Pods. She not only won $1000 in seed funding but an invitation to an online experience where Aarushi and her team will receive mentorship from experienced executives as well. Congratulations Aarushi!

To learn more about Aqua-pods, visit this link.

This Day In History: September 13

By Lindsay Der

1501: Michelangelo begins work on his statue of David, a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture. 

1789: 1st loan to US government (from NYC banks).

1963: The US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site. 

1969: “Scooby-Doo Where are You” by Hanna-Barbera debuts on CBS in the US. 

1985: Super Mario Bros game first appears, created by Shigeru Miyamoto at Nintendo. 

1999: Bomb explodes in Moscow, Russia. At least 119 people are killed.

2001: Civilian aircraft traffic resumes in the U.S. after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

2002: Marie Takata and Douglas Der get married!

2018:  Pope Francis meets with leaders of the American Catholic Church in Rome to discuss sexual abuse. 

2019: US actress Felicity Huffman sentenced to 14 days in prison for her role in the college admissions scandal. 

Article Highlights:

By Hailey Abdilla

By Julia Kemp

By Madeleine Stiffler

Athletes of the Issue:

Marcus Swalve

Ashlyn Yee

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