17 Mar

Green Sensor Design (and Terrible Gardening) at SLA Beeber

SLA_Arduino_2015  SLA_class_2015

At Science Leadership Academy’s Beeber campus in Overbrook, 9th grade students are learning to program Arduinos to collect soil moisture and sunlight data. The course began with a trip to the Fairmount Water Works to get some background on Philadelphia’s water history, its present challenges due to stormwater and combined sewer overflows, and the plan for an environmentally sustainable future. On the tech side, we’ve covered Arduino basics, Ohm’s Law, simple circuit design (in the photos above, Fritzing came in handy to help students visualize circuits), and the principles behind soil moisture sensors and photocells.

Each student used a datalogger shield to monitor a plant. Alas, monitoring does not equal maintenance. There’s only one bit of green in this otherwise barren dirt farm:


In the coming weeks, we’ll figure out more attention-grabbing ways to make sure students are looking after the plants. (And perhaps a solution to that mess of wires.) Thanks to Drexel University’s ExCITe Center, whose Seed Project funding brought all the electronics and sensors into the classroom.