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Empowering Youth-Led Biomaking Through Community and Culture

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  • $75
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  • 5
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About This Project

Youth-led initiatives are a powerful way to center culture, creativity, and community in biotechnology conversations. Focusing on the rural agricultural community of Greenfield, CA, a high school teen will develop a culturally-centered biology exhibit and leadership program for teens at a local engineering makerspace. This will inspire hundreds to use community-based biotechnology and traditional knowledge to address local environmental justice issues and grow local biotech ecosystems.

Ask the Scientists

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What is the context of this research?

Hi, my name is Jose Luis! I’m a 9th grader at Greenfield High School and I have noticed that STEM is a thing that Greenfield really lacks. The majority of youth here are not interested in STEM and so I am trying to inspire them to like it. I’m passionate about STEM, especially biology and engineering. I believe that having science that is relatable to youth through our culture would get them interested in learning. Last summer, I participated in BioJam Camp, a hands-on program that revolves around environmental justice, biology, and empowering youth to lead. This summer, I want to lead a project that will inspire youth in STEM. In the future, I know that youth like me will want to be scientists that develop biotech for our community. This is the first step to inspiring youth globally!

What is the significance of this project?

BioJam taught me that young people can be educators and leaders. During 2023 BioJam camp, we visited an aquaponics farm. Aquaponics first arose with the Aztec chinampas in their city of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). Aquaponics also do not require as many pesticides and fertilizers as land fields and they use less water. Pesticides and groundwater contamination are major issues in my community. The nearby town of San Lucas has not had clean drinking water in over a decade! This summer, I want to build my own aquaponics system to inspire hundreds of youth who use the CSW that our traditional knowledge is important in STEM and can help address local environmental justice issues. I can inspire teens throughout Monterey County (and the world) to be biotech leaders!

What are the goals of the project?

I will collaborate with a makerspace, the Greenfield Community Science Workshop (CSW), to create an educational DIY chinampa and educational curriculum. This will teach me and other students other ways of farming that are less exhausting on the land, based on our traditional farming practices. Through this project, hundreds of students in Greenfield will learn about aquaponics at the CSW. I will also share my project with other makerspaces in the Salinas Valley and beyond to expand their biology curricula to center community. This project will show everyone how embracing culture and traditional practices can create more sustainable and ethical biotechnology. I hope we inspire youth and agriculture workers to start their own ethical biotech!


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We are seeking $3,000 to fund Jose Luis’s 4-week summer internship, as well as provide funding for Greenfield CSW staffing support ($1,000 for on-site support) and materials to build the chinampa ($1,000). We already have secured funding for a full-time Stanford undergraduate intern, Angel Andres Millard-Bruzos, who will provide mentorship, technical support, and $1,000 for materials (included in his fellowship). We estimate that the material costs for this project will be approximately $2,000 ($1,000 from grant, $1,000 from Angel’s Stanford grant), which will cover the purchase of fish tanks ($700), grow beds ($200), grow medium ($100), plumbing ($50), pumps ($100), lighting ($150), seeds ($50), fish feeder ($50), worms ($50), and fish ($200), as well as additional operational costs. Previously, prototyping for this DIY chinampa project has been completed by Xinampa, a Salinas-based community bio lab (2018-2019) and BioJam Camp (2020-2024).

Endorsed by

This project's student-led nature is inspiring and important. It has the potential to have a large impact on the local community and broader support of science education efforts such as this which center local perspectives and youth voices is critical. The project is well-planned and has assembled a thoughtful team to support the work. I fully endorse it!
As someone who’s lived in Greenfield all my life, it brings me such joy to see a local project that not only centers Indigenous science, but also seeks to provide potential solutions to problems facing our current, unsustainable agricultural systems. The project/mentorship will contribute greatly to both the Greenfield CSW and our local community by expanding our biological capacities and understandings. I can’t wait to see this project, and the chinampa, come to fruition!
I am excited to see more work being done by such a great teen to bring us more community based science. The project is well thoughtout and supported such that it will succeed. I look forward to seeing this being a model to bring more science to more areas!
This project is so important and I think this team is the perfect group to see it through. As a native of the Salinas Valley, I am inspired by the potential for this project and this team to have a lasting positive impact on communities in the Salinas Valley and across the field of biotechnology. I can't wait to support them and witness their vision come to life.
I am very excited to see this innovative education program center cultural frameworks and Indigenous knowledge in explorations for future food sustainability. All those involved in this project are passionate and exceptional educators, including intern Jose Luis, a fantastic BioJam Camp teen alumni. The Greenfield Community Science Workshop is a trusted community learning space for over a decade in the community and is well positioned to bring this project to life as it is envisioned.

Project Timeline

BioJam Camp, Xinampa Bio Lab, and Region XVI Migrant Ed created a biodesign education program with youth in the Salinas Valley. Jose Luis participated in BioJam last year, which inspired his leadership here. This summer, Jose Luis will work with the Greenfield CSW along with a full-time undergraduate intern from Stanford, Angel Millard-Bruzos (already funded). After this summer, the Greenfield CSW will have a chinampa exhibit to engage future youth in culturally-centered bioengineering.

May 05, 2024

Project Launched

Jun 01, 2024

Greenfield Science Workshop and BioJam internship preparation

Jul 08, 2024

Youth intern is onboarded and learn about GCSW programming

Jul 15, 2024

Youth intern facilitates development of a biology curriculum module

Jul 19, 2024

Pilot biology curriculum at local elementary and middle summer school sessions.

Meet the Team

José S. Sánchez
José S. Sánchez


City of Greenfield, Greenfield Community Science Workshop
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Callie Chappell
Callie Chappell
Postdoctoral Fellow


Stanford University, Department of Bioengineering
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Angel Millard-Bruzos
Angel Millard-Bruzos
Undergraduate Intern/Mentor


Stanford University
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Simone Alma Evans
Simone Alma Evans
PhD Candidate


Stanford University
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Jose Luis Hernandez
Jose Luis Hernandez
High School Student


Greenfield High School
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Team Bio

We are an interdisciplinary team including our project lead, Jose Luis, a high school freshman from Greenfield California, José S. Sánchez, the founder and director of the Greenfield Community Science Workshop, Angel Andres Millard-Bruzos, an undergraduate at Stanford University studying electrical engineering who will be supporting Jose Luis’ summer internship, and Simone Alma Evans, a PhD student in Genetics at Stanford University who is leading BioJam Camp.

José S. Sánchez

I'm the founder and director of the Greenfield Community Science Workshop, an organization that provides access to innovative, hands-on science education for historically underserved communities in South Monterey County, California. I have led the organization for 12 years. In addition to my management role, I also act as the lead educator for the Greenfield CSW. I'm responsible for developing activities and lessons for students of all ages. I also adapt and create low-budget science exhibits , often utilizing recycled materials. I'm bilingual, fluent in both English and Spanish. I have a BA in Spanish and Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Callie Chappell

Callie is a postdoctoral research scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and Department of Bioengineering at Stanford University. They have a PhD in Biology from Stanford University and are passionate about advancing science that centers the needs and expertise of local communities. In addition to scientific research, they have a decade of experience in informal learning, especially focusing on youth education, science, and art.

Angel Millard-Bruzos

Angel is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Stanford University studying Electrical Engineering. Angel holds a wide range of skills focusing on the implementation of design and engineering principles, including computer-aided design, programming, 3D prototyping, and circuit design. He is interested in the intersection of electrical and mechanical engineering, including fields that relate to mechatronics and human-centered design. On any given day, you can find Angel practicing basketball, watching movies, or playing video games.

Simone Alma Evans

Simone is a second-year PhD student in Genetics at Stanford University where she is the vice-president of BioJam, an organization that runs summer programs in Salinas focused on bioengineering, art, environmental justice, and sustainability. Simone has experience developing lessons for BioJam and collaborating with the Migrant education office in Salinas. As an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Simone was a teaching assistant for three years and developed an online textbook supplement that made physics and chemistry more accessible to students taking Organismal Biology.

Jose Luis Hernandez

Jose Luis is a 15 year old, ninth grade student at Greenfield High School. Greenfield is a really small agricultural town in the heart of the Salinas Valley (California). There is just a ton of monoculture in Greenfield. Jose Luis is originally from Mexico and first came to the U.S. from Mexico to Hawaii in 2012. While in Hawaii, Jose Luis lived in the small tourist town of Lahaina, which unfortunately does not exist anymore because of the August 2023 fires that raged upon the island of Maui. Jose Luis moved to Greenfield, California in 2015. He likes to play video-games, and socialize with people. He wants to be an agricultural engineer when he gets to college.

Lab Notes

Nothing posted yet.

Additional Information

This project is based off several years of curriculum development through BioJam Camp, a teen leadership program focusing on culture and community in biodesign, and Xinampa Community Biology Lab.

This includes a DIY Chinampa project developed by Melissa Ortiz, Corinne Takara, Rolando Perez, and many, many others. This included a DIY Chinampa activity by Xinampa Community Bio Lab and subsequent activities at BioJam Camp where teens made chinampas in a jar. High school teens also re-designed a similar hydroponics project to share with elementary and middle school students in their community.

Project Backers

  • 3Backers
  • 2%Funded
  • $75Total Donations
  • $25.00Average Donation
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