The greenSTEM birdhouse is a low-cost, solar-powered, wifi-connected environmental sensor unit for schoolyard gardens.
It is also a house for birds.
What does it do? The birdhouse has two rooms—one for birds, and one for electronics. An infrared camera captures HD video of the birds inside the house and streams it live to computers inside the school for several hours each day. It also takes temperature and soil moisture readings. The temperature data let us know how comfortable the birds are inside their home, and the soil moisture levels can indicate when school gardens require watering. We have a data tree to help students know when to water.
This is a hands-on learning project. Middle school students assemble the birdhouses for their schools while learning about urban bird species and the design and function of the birdhouse technology. High school students learn to program microcontrollers and design and build their own birdhouses.
Who is behind this birdhouse endeavor? Philadelphia Water. Water is essential to all life. How we manage water on land affects our rivers and streams, the source of our drinking water. Philadelphia has an innovative, environmentally sustainable plan to green our city and improve our waterways by managing stormwater runoff. Schools are excellent places for projects and conversations about water in our urban environment.
Technical details and a DIY instruction guide are coming soon. The greenSTEM birdhouse uses low-cost technologies: a Raspberry Pi computer, a Pi NoIR camera, and an Arduino-based microcontroller called the Sleepy Pi.
For the latest news and updates about the birdhouses, check out the blog.
| Science Leadership Academy Beeber Campus
SLA Beeber is a project-based learning high school in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia. The birdhouse is located in the front of the school. A group of 9th grade students from this school participated in a 16-week course focused on coding, environmentalism, and the design and build of unique birdhouses. Electronics will be installed in this birdhouse when students are back in school in the fall.
Learn more about SLA Beeber.
Date Installed: June 19, 2015
|Penn Alexander School
Penn Alexander is a K-8 public school in West Philadelphia. The birdhouse is located in the school’s vegetable garden.
Learn more about Penn Alexander. The video feed from the birdhouse can only be viewed at the school. Type the following into the address bar of a web browser: 10.88.156.253
Viewing Times: 1:00-3:00 p.m. dailyView and download temperature and soil moisture data here.
Date Installed: May 28, 2015
Cook-Wissahickon is a K-8 public school in Manayunk. The birdhouse is located in the school’s meadow, which provides ecological diversity and serves as an outdoor learning space for students.
Learn more about Cook-Wissahickon. The video feed from the birdhouse can only be viewed at the school. Type the following into the address bar of a web browser: 10.92.187.139
Viewing Times: 10:30 – 12:30 p.m. dailyView and download temperature and soil moisture data here.
Date Installed: May 29, 2015
|John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
John Heinz NWR is the country’s first urban refuge. It was established in 1972 to preserve, restore, and develop the natural area known as Tinicum Marsh, to promote environmental education, and to afford visitors an opportunity to study wildlife in its natural habitat. The birdhouse is located in the meadow near the visitors center.
Learn more about John Heinz Wildlife Refuge. The video feed from the birdhouse can only be viewed at the refuge in the education wing. Type the following into the address bar of a web browser: 10.1.10.25
Viewing Times: 11:30 – 1:30 p.m. daily
Date Installed: May 1, 2015
|ExCITe Center- Drexel University
The ExCITe Center is a program created by Drexel University that gives start-ups and collaborative projects in the Philadelphia region opportunities for research and development. As a gratuity for awarding the greenSTEM program the 2014 SEED project grant, we gave them this birdhouse which was built by two students at SLA Beeber. The birdhouse is located in the window in the main office of the ExCITe center.
Find out what’s under the roof of the greenSTEM birdhouse. Materials list, technical details, a DIY guide and more are coming soon.