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


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!



Cooper Hewitt is hosting a National High School Design Competition: Good For All. The design challenge is WHAT WOULD YOU DESIGN TO IMPROVE A COMMUNITY’S ACCESS TO HEALTHY, FRESH FOODS? According to the site, the competition is open to high school students ages 13-19 years old anywhere in the United States.

This could be a great opportunity for the teen #nerdfarmers out there!


Hi @paula !

We decided to build 3 tamed-down versions of the Food Computer that OpenAg used for their National Geographic student activity (posted in the github file) since the 2.0 documentation wasn’t fully updated when we started the school quarter. We just finished up building these Food Computers (here’s a preview of what we’re doing! ), and we plan to compare the produce grown in these Food Computers with produce grown in a v1.0 Food Computer and produce grown in soil.

We’re also supplementing the Food Computer curriculum with learning about/coding with Raspberry Pi and Arduino, since our smaller Food Computers don’t use a Raspberry Pi.

Let me know if you’d like more information about what we’re doing!


@melanieshimano - That’s great! You have so many experimentation possibilities with three PFCs to work with! Please keep us posted with the results of your PFC v2(ish) vs PFC v1 vs Soil research. There are a lot of educators out there working on curricula for food computing. It would be great to be able to share lessons with each other. Maybe we can set up a place for this on the wiki?


So I am trying to find the build instructions for the Food computer. I found the code to program the computers on github but cant seem to find plans on building the container or the needed materials. Would someone be able to direct me to where these are found.
I teach computer science and principles of engineering and would like my engineering kids to build the container and my computer science kids to program it.


Hi @saputom - Glad you were able to access the code. Here is a link to the build manual, BOM, and build video on GitHub - Hope that helps!

Please keep us posted on your progress! We’d love to see some pics/video of you the PFC build :slight_smile:


Thank you. Do you know of any good places to apply for grants or funding
for one of these?


For those K-12 educators seeking funding to build a PFC in the classroom, the McCarthey Dressman Education Foundation offers “Academic Enrichment Grants designed to develop in-class and extra-curricular programs that improve student learning.” The deadline to apply is April 15th - good luck!


Additional funding opportunity: “The NEA Foundation provides NEA members with grants to improve the academic achievement of students in U.S. public schools and public higher education institutions in any subject area(s). The proposed work should engage students in critical thinking and problem solving that deepen their knowledge of standards-based subject matter. The work should also improve students’ habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection.”


More funding opportunities:

“Toshiba America Foundation is accepting applications from 6-12 science and math teachers for grants.” -

“The American Honda Foundation engages in grant making that reflects the basic tenets, beliefs and philosophies of Honda companies, which are characterized by the following qualities: imaginative, creative, youthful, forward-thinking, scientific, humanistic and innovative. We support youth education with a specific focus on the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in addition to the environment.” -

“The annual NSTA Awards and Recognition Program recognizes exceptional and innovative science educators. The NSTA Awards and Recognition were created in 1973 to raise awareness and exposure of the outstanding work being done in the science education field.” - makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.” -

STEM Funding Opportunities and Free Grant Writing Services -

Captain Planet Foundation awards grants from $250 to $2,500 for initiatives that support hands-on environmental projects involving children and youth -

If anyone else has any suggestions for educator funding, please post :slight_smile:


Hi everyone! We’re finishing up our pilot semester with Foam Farm Activity PFCs, and I just made a post about troubleshooting some issues withe the Arduino connectivity here:

Has anyone built these in classrooms, or is everyone focusing on the v2PFCs?


With our first graders, we worked with a robot called Bee-Bot that teaches very simple computer programming for kids as young as 4. It didn’t feel like technology for technology’s sake because the kids were already learning about bees and pollination; we just added sequential thinking and measuring skills to the mix.


I am working with an organization around funding the computers so that some of our high schools can build them. The site has gotten very dense with information and a variety of topics. Is there some basic space I can go to, to get all of the basic information (like building the chassis)? We are in Washington State and would to get this program started soon! I love what Juliana did and would love to connect to gain from her experience!


I found it through another question poster, but would still love to connect with Juliana!!


Hello all,

I am a coach of a First Lego League Team of 8th graders at our school called team Sophisticated AI.

For our Design Project for FLL they have been learning about Open Ag, hydroponics and PFCs. The team applied for a grant from our school earlier in the fall and have been working on building a Foam Farm based on the plans they found online. It has been a learning process but we just successfully tested all of the components yesterday and are looking forward to growing something after the break.

Any good recommendations for a first recipe to try?

They are excited by the Open Ag movement and would like to share one way that they were thinking that Open Ag might be able to attract a broader audience, especially younger people. Here is what they are proposing(in their own words):

Our Proposed Solution

Part One: Improving the instructions for the Foam Farm

We think that in order for a smart hydroponics system such as the Foam Farm to be accessible to younger kids, several improvements would have to be made. The current instruction manual provided by OpenAg is clear, but not exactly kid-friendly or accessible. Providing diagrams of how the system works, more supporting photos in the assembly process, troubleshooting tips and more readable code is an easy way to make help make the Foam Farm less daunting for younger kids and less experienced adults alike.

Part Two: An interactive PFC simulator app

We suspect that even with an easier to assemble plan for a Foam Farm, taking the leap and purchasing materials presents an obstacle. So we also propose an app that will use real data from Open Ag to teach kids our age about the operations of a Personal Food Computer through simulation and gameplay.

Some of the features of this app would include:

Plant Information - Real Data From Open Ag

Using the Open Phenome Project as a model, we would look at different climate recipes and transfer them into plant information. OpenAg, the MIT initiative that served as an entry-point in our PFC journey, has sample recipes for growing greens. These can be converted into simple plant profiles by using the values of humidity (etc.) and simple research on the plant. We would simplify this into core variables and design plant profiles that give the ‘stats’ for plants a user might want to use.

Learning to Program

We’ve chosen to follow in the footsteps of Scratch and The Hour of Code Initiative and make our app a platform for enthusiastic coders and eager teachers. Using the basic recipes from OpenAg, we would condense the code into simple, easy-to-use blocks. Then, using the plant profile of their chosen veggie or fruit, they would code for the conditions that would optimize growth.

Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.