The Department of Education has recently purchased two Farmbots thanks to the Telstra and Cisco Alliance Sponsorship. FarmBot is a farming project consisting of a cartesean coordinate robot farming machine, software and documentation including a farming data repository. The project is open source, which means users share and make additions to the hardware, software and documentation modifications. The bot is a three axis robotic arm that can plant over 30 different crops including potatoes, chillies, thai basil in an area of 2.9 meters × 1.4 meters. It can perform almost all processes prior to harvesting including sowing, mechanical weed control and watering.
It is potentially one of our most practical projects in the STEM space, as it offers not only a multitude of varied learning experiences, but it produces something tangible, something consumable in a sustainable fashion.
The Farmbots have arrived in Darwin and the STEAM team’s plan is to present the harvested vegetables from the dry season growing period at the Skills 2021 Expo on the 10 August 2018 (TBC). Since its arrival in Darwin, there has been considerable interest from schools and partnerships have been formed with the Department of Primary Industry and Resources in Darwin and Katherine.
All Northern Territory schools are invited to participate. Our team are looking forward to a strong involvement from Kintore Street School in Katherine along with primary, middle and senior schools across the NT. Students can contribute to the gardening activity including planting, watering and weeding, which can be controlled from the Internet. Students in Alice Springs, Banyiala, Bulla Camp, Belyuen and beyond can log in, view, monitor and help the garden flourish. With cameras overhead the plants and also covering the entire FarmBot plot, students, teachers, parents, visitors and scientists can engage with the garden from anywhere in the world.
Customising the STEM experience
The Department of Education is exploring taking the FarmBot off the grid and with an exciting solar initiative starting next year, I think there is an opportunity to explore the strong STEAM connection within that project to provide renewable energy for our FarmBot. Read more …
Additionally, the department is investigating integrating weatherzone recording data involving students will provide data collection and analysis opportunities. This would mean including a weather station at the site and configuring it to report data back.
Depending on how waterproof the components are will determine the level of protection in the form of structures like greenhouses needed to place around the FarmBot.
Another challenge is choosing the best plants for the experiment that grow well in the wet season and then in the dry season. Luckily, the Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries already has this information which can be found in this growing guide and Taste of the Top End.
Who are we looking for?
Growers, makers, gardeners, inventors, constructors, recorders, analysts, programmers, problem solvers, story tellers, educators, marketers, entrepreneurs, manufacturers and more. We hope to inspire STEMpreneurs, people who can integrate their own STEM learning with creative and practical outcomes for the products of this endeavour.
We have a link to a draft document that matches learning outcomes in this space to the Australian Curriculum. This is currently only available as an internal document to Northern Territory school staff.
If you would like more information about this project, drop us a line.
P: 8999 5861