As detailed in a previous post, Greenfield Elementary School in Center City Philadelphia is one of the Water Department’s “green schools.” (It’s an environmentally conscious school in its own right, regardless of PWD’s designation, but the green stormwater infrastructure at the schoolyard is what connects the Solar Sunflower project to it.) Earlier this week, we paid a visit to the school during an in-service day (a day without students, when teachers receive some training) to present the project to the faculty and scope out possible spots for installation.
There’s good news and bad news about Greenfield, at least for the moment: On the challenging side, the main schoolyard and rain gardens are pretty much open to the public—the space is not gated or closed at night, so that leaves the Sunflower or any type of sensor setup vulnerable to vandalism. It isn’t a dealbreaker; we just need to invest much more time into securing sensors and electronics inside heavy-duty housing bolted into concrete or enclosed in a junction box.
Then we were taken around the side of the school and saw … the secret garden. It doesn’t contain green stormwater infrastructure, but it’s secured behind a padlocked gate and serves as an outdoor classroom for the kindergarten classes. Additionally, the library window overlooks the secret garden:
This makes it possible to do something visual with the sensors in the garden—maybe an LED display lights up when the soil is dry, and students looking out the window can get the bat signal to go out and do some watering.