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Our Kickstarter campaign has ended. If you would like to purchase a BaySavers Buffer Garden Kit (and we hope you do!), please visit our website (see link below).
Our Kickstarter campaign has ended. If you would like to purchase a BaySavers Buffer Garden Kit (and we hope you do!), please visit our website (see link below).
33 backers pledged $2,000 to help bring this project to life.
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What is a prototype?

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Proof of Concept

Explorations that test ideas and functionality.

Functional Prototype

Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.

Appearance Prototype

Looks like the final product, but is not functional.

Design Prototype

Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.

Production Prototype

Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.

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Prototype Gallery

These photos and videos provide a detailed look at this project’s development.

Every year, the FIRST LEGO League issues a challenge to teams to research and solve real world problems. Teams are judged on their research of a real world problem and their ability to present their research in a creative way. The challenge this year is Hydrodynamics and it's all about water. 

We began our research by visiting many experts to learn about problems with the Human Water Cycle. The human water cycle is how we get, use and dispose of water in our communities. But what happens when human activity negatively impacts the Human Water Cycle? To narrow our focus and understand the most serious problems, we met with experts at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. They told us while certain products, like synthetic fertilizers, are beneficial to humans; they also contain more nutrients than the earth can hold.

The problem is the excess nutrients and sediment are washed through our storm drains and into nearby waterways where it pollutes the water we depend on. Untreated stormwater containing these nutrients causes massive algae growth. When these Harmful Algae Blooms die, they consume all the oxygen so nothing in the water can live. This has a huge affect on the human water cycle and our ability to find clean water.

We met with Mr. Joe Grist, the Environmental Compliance Administrator with the Newport News Department of Engineering. We learned that stormwater runoff is the only source of pollution still increasing in our local waterways. They use many natural ways to reduce the amount of pollutants entering our waterways, such as bioretention ponds, grass swales and rain gardens.

We analyzed these solutions and realized two things. First, many of the solutions relied on plants - which use phytoremediation to clean excess nutrients and pollutants from our water - and second, that while these solutions are great, none of them included ordinary people. People who want to help, but don't know how.

We wondered what we could do to solve this problem? By using the Engineering Design Process, we had already identified the problem and it was time to brainstorm solutions. We had ideas like rain barrels and rain gardens, but after considering many factors decided that these just wouldn't do the job. So we invented... THE BAYSAVERS BUFFER GARDEN KIT!

A buffer garden is a sloped garden built around lakes or rivers to filter run-off with plants before it can reach the water. Our Baysavers Buffer Garden Kit includes everything that homeowners need to be part of the solution by building buffer gardens in their own yards, preventing run-off from reaching storm drains.

We met with Dr. Laurie Fox, a Horticulturist with VA Tech, and learned that the best plants for phytoremediation were those that were native, lived all year round and had an extensive root systems. But homeowners needs are important too so we added size and attractiveness to our list. We used the best science to include the seeds for six perfect plants. We also include growing pots, soil pellets, landscape designs, and educational material to help homeowners learn what they can do to be part of the solution.

Using the next step in the Engineering Design Process, we tested our kit by building a buffer garden in our own yard and testing the soil. At first, we were shocked that the water exiting our buffer garden had more nutrients than when it entered! We made modifications to our garden, with the help of horticulturists from Virginia Living Museum, and retested. We've included instructors for building a perfect buffer garden in your own yard.

With our improvements, our buffer garden prevented almost all of the water from leaving it! We also met with educators from Lynnhaven River Now and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to redesign our educational materials to make them easier to use.

But one buffer garden alone cannot stop the flow of stormwater runoff, so we need to get our solution into the community. That's why we need YOU! We envision buffer gardens doing their work to keep our water clean all across Virginia...and eventually the World!

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The BaySavers Buffer Garden Kit comes with two different types of kits - one for shade and one for sun. The seeds for the following plants are included for each kit:  

Sun Kit  
White Turtlehead
Blue Flag Iris
Purple Coneflower
New England Aster
Swamp Milkweed
Switch Grass 

 Shade Kit
Short's Aster
White Turtlehead
Jacob's Ladder
Mistflower
Ohio Spiderwort
Monkey Flower

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Funding period

- (25 days)

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