Pleasant View eighth grade students

Pleasant View eighth grade students sit next to a computer monitored "H2O on the Go" remote solar water sensor they are developing to help farmers and ranchers use technology to efficiently monitor water usage. They switch on the water pump and it remotely measures the water going from the bucket on the ground up to the top bucket, and it stops automatically.

Pleasant View students apply technology in a handy way with H2O on the GO project

An ag technology project that started as a simple sensor to detect moisture in the soil for farmers became something else when eighth grade students at Pleasant View Elementary met with cowboys at Merritt Ranch in Strathmore and found out what they had to do to take care of the cattle and check the water levels daily on the huge ranch.

In charge of the project is Vahid Motazedian, Director of Rural Community and Research Initiatives for the Foundation for the Application of Science. (FAS)

Manuel Luevano and Ryan Corwin are the eighth grade teachers at Pleasant View School in Poplar, and admit they have a learning curve on the project.

“I’m learning from my students when I listen to them talk about this water project,” said Luevano. 

The students went to Merritt Ranch with Motazedian and spoke to real-life working cowboys, who explained the different jobs they do to take care of the cattle and how they check the food and water daily. In addition to all the hard work, they have to drive up a hill daily and make a dangerous climb up a 40-foot water tank to check water levels. 

The students’ goal became to apply science and technology in a creative way that made the daily workload lighter for the cowboys.  

The students developed a prototype called H2O on the GO using batteries, sensors and levels. During a classroom demonstration Tuesday, students flicked a switch on their prototype and it came to life, pumping water from one orange (Home Depot) bucket to another bucket.

But it does more than pump water. All the levels are monitored by sensors and it’s all on the computer, and the eighth graders built the whole project so it can be stopped or started by remote control. Aside from the ability to be monitored remotely by computer, H2O on the Go is all solar, so if there is a solar flare or if the sun isn’t out, the energy is stored in the solar packs. Everything has been thought through completely.

In other words, larger working models of the H2O on the GO prototype could regulate the water level in tanks like the one at Merritt Ranch, automating a potentially dangerous daily task for the cowboys and freeing up their time for other matters; an impressive accomplishment for the aspiring young students.

“To listen to them talking about their water project I was so proud,” said Gustavo Ramirez, Physical Education teacher. “To see them represent the school so well in something they can connect to and see these guys talk about it, it looks like their future career.”

Motazedian has worked in other communities up and down California, but he’s excited to be working with elementary students in Poplar, and they plan to take a larger completed water sensor system to Merritt Ranch in Strathmore, but only after the they’ve proved it will work in real time remotely. 

The technology used was modeled on a system from high school students in the town of Gonzales, south of Salinas, said Motazedian. 

“This project has really built up the students’ confidence at Pleasant View,” said Motazedian, explaining the technology is being developed locally by older and younger school students to help farmers become more efficient with water resources. “If they can get more efficient results with less water and time usage by using technology, it will be a win-win situation.”

“What we are sold on out here is that building our childrens’ belief systems is the equalizer,” said Pleasant View Superintendent Mark Odsather, “We are a natural partner for the work. We want these kids to believe in themselves.”

Motazedian said he has other similar ag technology projects underway in Terra Bella, Ducor, Tipton and Woodville.

“We are trying to plant seeds, or create a habits — good habits like study habits, or habits of success like reflecting on what they could do better and being open to new opportunities,” said Corwin. “The H2O on the GO is something they are interested in, and they take ownership. It’s hands-on-work, and they’re learning how to troubleshoot, find help and create something that will help others. It’s great for them to have a hands-on opportunity like this.”

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