Class Description

STEM is a research-based course taught by Dr. Crowthers here at Mass Academy. In STEM I, students work to complete an independent research project on a topic of choice. This experience helps students to learn the overall process for conducting a scientific study. In STEM II, students work in groups to engineer assistive technology devices. The final projects are then presented at a public fair.

Adaptive Irrigation System Using Sorption-Based Atmospheric Water Harvesting

The overall purpose of my project is to attempt to assist water conservation efforts for irrigation, in particular for arid climates. Current irrigation is often inefficient and relies on only one water source, so my project wished to improve water productivity and suggest a new water source. This was done through the construction of a prototype atmospheric water harvester that absorbed and released water through silica gel. Arduinos were also used to create a system that could estimate the amount of water plants required, and could distribute the accurate amount.


Graphical Abstract

Proposal and Review

Research Proposal


Literature Review



Phrase 1

Due to the expansion of irrigation to meet the greater crop yield required for the rapidly increasing global population, water consumption has been increasing. Arid regions are struggling to meet this demand, as there is a lack of current solutions to conserve water.

Phrase 2

The objective of this project was to engineer a device that can monitor evapotranspiration and harvest water from the atmosphere in order improve productivity and suggest a new water source for arid regions.

Background and Methods

Background Infographic
Materials and Methods Infographic


Data Table 1
Data Table 2
Absorption Scatterplot
Desorption Scatterplot


An average of 1.05 mL of water was collected per cycle. Two one-sample t-tests were conducted for null hypotheses of 0.00 mL and 1.00 mL. The respective results were p-values of 0.0001 and 0.4059. We reject the null hypothesis, there is sufficient evidence to show that the device can produce water in arid regions. However, there is not enough evidence to show that the device can produce more than 1.00 mL. This study demonstrates how atmospheric water harvesters could potentially be viable in arid regions. Silica gel is not well suited for low humidity, yet it still produced water. The large variation in the data indicates that advancements must be made to achieve consistency.