Sprout: MIT students create seed-filled pencils that grow herbs
Last year, a group of MIT students designed a writing utensil that is a little more colorful than the average office product, that will soon go on sale.
“Sprout,” is a cedar pencil that is capable of growing a plant thanks to a water-activated seed capsule at the tip.
The idea for the eco-friendly office product sprouted from the head of 25-five-year-old Somerville resident Mario Bollini last March, in a product design class at MIT.
He and his MIT classmates created a research collaborative called Democratech to launch their product, which sprouts eight different herbs.
But pencil biters beware — saliva can set off the seedling.
The Sprout team decided to stick with herb seeds because they’re easy and quick to grow.
“Regular vegetables take a long time to grow, so there is not much of an instant reward,” said Bollini.
Sprouts that can bloom, however, are on the horizon.
“We’re hoping to offer flowers eventually. We’re thinking of creating colored pencils that match the color of the flower,” he said.
Sprout’s industrial design leader, Lauren Hernley, hopes that the product will make people more conscious of their environmental habits.
“Eco-friendly office practices are important because we need to realize our impact on the environment as a community and as individuals,” said Hernley. “It’s easy to forget how fortunate we are to have an abundance of resources. Eco-friendly office practices allow us to take responsibility for our actions and our impact on the earth.”
While Bollini is a fan of pencils, he admits they have fallen by the wayside in recent years.
“I did a lot of my homework at MIT with a pencil. You have to get up and sharpen it, and it forces you to relax. Now that I’m working, I almost never write by hand,” he said.
The hope is that Sprout will motivate people to go back to their wooden writing ways, and considering how well the project did on Kickstarter, it just might.
When the campaign wrapped up in September it had more 2,086 backers and earned $37,715 – flying past its $25,000 goal.
Sprout pencils will likely be up for sale in just a few weeks, and will cost $20 for an 8-pack.
Check a video of Bollini talking about Sprout, below: