Brendon Bilavio took to Second Life like a fish in water – somewhat literally. Let me explain..

Within a few days of sign-up, he had learned the Second Life building tools and scripting enough to start prototyping his Eco Tower concept – an innovative 17 story urban aquaponic tower, designed to end world hunger – organically.

Brendon decided to build the Eco Tower as his high school graduation project, with guidance from my friends Julie Sugarplum and Mo Hax on a skybox above their new EDTECH Retreat sim (more about that project soon!). The idea started as scribbles in a notebook, sketched during trigonometry class, and turned into a full-scale installation that is sure to rival even the most ambitious real-world prototyping concepts I’ve seen built in Second Life.

When Julie introduced me to Brendon this morning, he described the concept of ‘aquaponics’ – something I hadn’t heard of before, which is similar to hydroponics but involves the use of fish.

“Instead of just using a water source such as a retention pond, you can add fish to your water. that water would then be used for the crop. the water used for crop would circulate back to the pond. this means the plants get nutrients from fish and fish get nutrients from plants…”

This is amazing, but..  “it gets even better” he tells me,

“With regular farming methods a tomato farm produces about 22k pounds of tomatoes an acre. The average tomato farm is about 11 to 14 acres. That comes out to about 400k pounts of tomatoes. divide that by 30 (tomatoes a box) and you get what about 1300 boxes. Well with this technique, the output is 400k pounds of tomatoes AN ACRE with a building just 3 or 4 levels thats 1200000 pounds – potentially ending world hunger ORGANICALLY!”

His enthusiasm is contagious, and I even found myself a bit intimidated by his energy, ambition and knowledge, which far exceeded my own as a senior in high school.   A new era of students with ideas as ambitious as this is exactly what we need to develop the kinds of solutions and technology we will need in the years ahead.

Even though the project is just getting started, Brendon already says the experience of prototyping this project in Second Life has led him to consider pursuing a career in aquaponic agriculture.

I will be checking back in often, and will post more screenshots and a follow up post as his project continues. In the meantime, you can follow the project’s blog here:

Visit the project here:

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