Calling all Educators! Who's using Food Computers in schools?


It’s a bigger version of the food computer. There’s a description on this page.


I’m a community college instructor in computer science and I am currently building a food computer with another faculty member and some students. Our PFC should be done in the next few weeks.


Hi Hildreth,

I’m a freelance journalist, and among the things I write is an education technology column for a nonprofit newsroom called the Hechinger Report. This column is almost always reposted on Slate.

I think educators using food computers and food servers in schools would be a great topic for my September column. I understand via Alexandra Kahn at the MediaLab that you guys have a formal education initiative in the works that may not quite be off the ground. But, it also seems like some students and teachers are taking this up informally as well…and that kind of seems in keeping with the project. I’d love to talk with you, as well as any interested educators. Please let me know, if you’re game. The column deadline is next Friday, and so I hope to have my reporting in place by the middle of next week.

With thanks,


Hi Hildreth,

I’m a middle and high school teacher in Arkansas and heard about this project through a TED talk I shared with my students. They were very interested in the project and many of them came to me after class asking if it would be possible to get a PFC on our campus! I was wondering if that would be a possibility in the near future and, if so, what that process would look like. Our school is a 1:1 technology school and many of our students engage in programming, design, and other such pursuits. I would love to bring a crossover of this, science, engineering, sustainability, and agriculture. Right now we don’t have the facilities to build one of our own, but we may in the near future. In the meantime is there anything we could do to host a PFC? If not, I look forward to the 2.0 to be put out so that we can build one and join in the effort.

Thank you,



Hi Hildreth,

We finished building the PFC. We learned a lot from it and like any maker-type project, encountered things we needed to troubleshoot, both in the physical build and with the program - but it’s great!! Our kids started working on the food server today. We’ve divided the work so that our 4th/5th graders are building the enclosure, which should be done by the time we break for winter break, our 6th graders will build the shelving units and the 7th/8th graders will work on the plumbing, etc. The 7th/8th graders will work on the computing part of it in Computer Science.

Here are pics from today (we posted these on our FB page)…

And the completed PFC:


This is great, Juliana - congrats - We are impressed!! Please keep us posted on how it turns out!


Hello all -

It’s so exciting to see all this interest in integrating Food Computers into education!

Here’s a quick update for you, our #nerdfarmer educators…

Food Servers & v2.0 Personal Food Computer (alpha)

For folks who’ve asked about Food Servers (the shipping container-sized Food Computer), OpenAg is getting four Food Servers online and experiments started at our new off-site facility. It should be very exciting.

For the moment, our focus for Food Computers in education is on Personal Food Computers (the small units), and we’re testing a very few v2.0 Personal Food Computers (alpha) now to finalize the software, hardware, and user interface design before moving full-throttle into a larger education pilot.

Personal Food Computers in Schools
For the educators on this thread who’ve asked: please know our tiny research team at the Media Lab would love to get a Personal Food Computer to each and every educator who’s asked. We really would, and…we’re working on it. More soon.

In the meantime, I want to encourage you all to check out our updated OpenAg wiki for the latest on the Personal Food Computer, and learn more about how to build your very own. Tell us what works! Tell us what needs improvement!

Foam Farm Activity
This summer, OpenAg created a 3-day ‘hackathon’-style build for National Geographic Student Expeditions participants this summer. We called it a Foam Farm!

You can find the Foam Farm activity on our GitHub, here:

If you’re eager to get started, feel like a PFC might be a little too advanced/involved, or want to get students familiar with some of the basic concepts behind Food Computers, this might be a good place to start.

Thank you

Thank you for being part of our community, and thanks for your patience as we continue to develop the technology to grow the next generation of farmers! Our commitment to being an open source project is so that anyone can contribute. We’re excited to co-create Personal Food Computers with you and your students. Please stay tuned, and enjoy exploring, hacking, modifying, critiquing, suggesting and refining what it means to do food computing, together!


Definitely! They’re working on the easy part right now, and I’m looking forward to see what happens when they get to the really difficult parts of the design and build. :slight_smile:

On a related note, a number of our students (8-10 kids) will be traveling to MIT for the MIT Spark weekend (3/11-12) and I was wondering if you or someone from the OpenAg team would be available to meet with them on Friday, 3/10 for about 1 hour? We can be flexible on time, as families are all making travel arrangements now.

We work hard to make learning experiences authentic, and they’d be over the moon to get a chance to present what they’ve built, the challenges they’ve encountered, and what they’ve learned to the creators of the tech. We could record it to share with other educators

Thank you so much,


Hi Hildreth,

I teach “imagineering” at Chiaravalle Montessori Middle School here in Evanston, IL. This year we are hoping to build a Personal Food Computer. I’ll share posts as we go and probably craft a Build Diary here too.

We’re currently planning on building PFC 1.1 as 2.0 doesn’t appear to have the details listed and a complete BOM. I see that 1.1 will upgrade to 2.0 which is great. I look forward to hearing your updates.




Although I am not technically an educator (I am a student), I am working with a team of teachers and classmates to build a food computer. Our aim is to use the device across multiple disciplines, particularly biology, and integrate it into our design class in which we work with a variety of technologies including 3D printers and laser cutters. However, as we are a small school in Canada where programming is not taught is a school subject, we cannot find anyone with sufficient coding knowledge to facilitate our project. Does anyone have suggestions as to how we could learn to code or program the food computer otherwise?
All help is much appreciated.


Hey Cole - happy 2017! I’m glad to hear you and your team are joining the ranks of our #nerdfarmers!

If you haven’t already, I think you’ll get some great responses to your question by posting it as a new (general) thread to the forum - there’s a lot of folks that can help point you in the right direction.

FWIW, the PFC runs on Arduino and Raspberry Pi, which have robust communities and tools for learning the basics of programming/coding in their own right. Looping in @gordonb & @Eddie, too, in case they have some specific suggestions for getting started with those software stacks in relation to the PFC software.

Hope this helps a bit to get you going…Let us all know how it turns out!



Hi all!

I’m piloting a high school biotechnology course using Food Computers in a Baltimore City charter high school starting this month!

We’ll build a Food Computer in the class, compare the produce with other farming methods, and learn how STEM/farming/food systems can help the students excel in their future careers and problem-solve within their communities.

How are other people incorporating the Food Computer into their existing curriculum? Do you typically use the Food Computer as an after-school/extra-curricular club, incorporate it into a science block, or do something else entirely?




our team is studying food growing and we are planning to use Food Computer to collect data about optimal growing conditions, water circulation and of course to control the environment in the chamber. We are aiming to finish our student project later this spring.

Greetings from snowy Finland!


I am new to open agriculture and food computers, but am quite interested. I have the opportunity to work with a small group of 25 or so highest-end, mixed grade middle school students for a short period of time several days per week. We are STEAM focused. I am interested in taking a closer look at what you are doing here for possible implementation in our program. Have much to learn, but am curious if there is listing of parts that can be 3D printed at school.
Thank you for making this exciting project accessible.


Hi everyone,

I learned about OpenAG through @Webb.Peter and am working on incorporating food computers into a local private school in Jefferson City, MO. The idea is to have a two semester class beginning fall 2017, with the first semester focused on the build and the second semester focused on chemistry. We are just beginning the planning process, but I will continue to post on here.

If anyone has any tips or information for the best way to structure one of these classes, I would love to get in contact with you. I’m specifically looking for how people mesh food computers with their existing curriculum. The school is unique in that it is a University Model School. It meets three days a week, and the students spend two days a week at home with work. I’m excited to begin work on this project, and would love any input!

Thanks from Mid-Mo!


Hi, I am very interested in applying this technology here in Pueblo, CO and being a part of the beta testing and documentation that will make urban farming an increasingly viable choice for future generations! Dr. Kelly


Hi @melanieshimano,

I was wondering how your progress with the PFC v2 build is coming along? Would you mind sending along a quick update?

There is a group of teachers that will be starting the build process in a couple of weeks and will be documenting the journey on this thread -

I’m sure they would appreciate any guidance you can offer :slight_smile:



Hi @Lasileuka,

How old are the students you are working with?




We are thrilled to hear that you and your middle schoolers are interested in getting involved with food computing. OpenAg is not currently using 3D printing in manufacturing our components, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t somebody in the community that is giving it a go.

If you are interested in building a Personal Food Computer with your class, the wiki is a great place to start - The wiki also has links to the bill of materials (BOM), CAD files, and documentation on GitHub to help you on your way to building a PFC.

There is a group of teachers that will begin building PFCs with their classes in a couple of weeks. If you are interested in following along in their journey, you can keep in touch with them via this thread -

Keep us posted on your progress!




Great to hear that you are working with our friend, @Webb.Peter. I would also love to hear about how teachers are incorporating PFCs into their curriculum.

A group of teachers will be starting to build PFCs with their students in the upcoming weeks and then implementing a PFC-centered lesson plan. You may find them to be a helpful resource. I’m sure that they would love to connect with you once they begin their food computing journeys :slight_smile:

I’ll keep you posted once they are up and running, but please feel free to check in on them in the next couple of weeks using this thread -

Best of luck!