22 Mar

Root Kit 2016


As seen on Twitter: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney speaking before an image of our very own Root Kit. Mayor Kenney was on hand to kick off last weekend’s Democracy Hackathon, and greenSTEM is very proud to have worked with civic hackers at Code for Philly to develop the hardware and software that went behind the Root Kit, a web-connected soil moisture sensor for rain gardens and other green infrastructure. If you’re looking to get involved with technology projects that benefit your neighbors and the city, stop by one of Code for Philly’s weekly meetups—no coding experience required.

But the point of this post is not merely to tout our product placement. A next generation of the Root Kit is coming. It’s even more advanced than the Soil Cell. It’s more powerful, less expensive, and open source all the way. As always, we’ll document how to build one of your own once we figure out all the problems with it have some nice photos.

10 Mar

Hacking a Rain Barrel


Wish we could say no rain barrels were harmed during this week’s minicourse at SLA Beeber but, as the photo above indicates, that simply isn’t true. Ninth grade students have begun to imagine a smarter, more functional rain barrel for Philadelphia residents and businesses to manage stormwater on their property. This week, one group of students worked in the makerspace to build an enclosure prototype for the rain barrel while the other group investigated different sensors to measure water level in the barrel and figure out how the sensors fit into the physical design.

As with last year’s solar-powered birdhouses, greenSTEM is collaborating with Public Workshop to guide the students in designing and building a functional addition to their schoolyard and garden. We’ll be documenting the progress here—sharing the designs, code and challenges along the way.

Learn more about rain barrels and Philadelphia Water’s Rain Check program here.