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.