That looks really awesome, but my teacher was balking at just the price of dirt for the tank.
I think I'll just get a new light hood. Cheaper and easier, I suppose. Could I potentially make my own light hood even though I have zero electronics experience, or might it just be easier to find a used one?
If your teacher is balking at the price of dirt, then he probably shouldn't be trying to go planted. In my experience this is a very expensive hobby.
As far as lights go, you can go pretty much any direction you can think of, depending on how handy you are. Though since you did say you already electrically charged the water, i would really recommend getting something ready made. I assume electrifying the water killed all your fish, im not even sure how you would make the water part of the circuit without blowing a breaker.
Really though, the best place to start for advice here would be to give us the specifications of your tank such as length, width, height, rimless/rimmed and a more clear idea on what you would like to grow in the future. This would keep us from recommending something that doesn't fit and won't grow what you want to grow.