Tomorrow’s Greenhouse Techs Are In School STEM Programs Today

Plantduino greenhouse using Arduino
The Plantduino greenhouse project uses Arduinos to automate watering.

Programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are growing. More students are getting at least a basic understanding of engineering and technology concepts. As those kids move into business, Harvest Automation CEO John Kawola says the mindset of those leaders will only help the proliferation of automation and robotics in business.

The STEM Education Coalition reports that companies are looking to educate not only college students, but even those in middle and high schools.

With that education and, in some cases, inexpensive technology, young people are coming up with amazing engineering on their own, and some are even applying it to solving real-world problems. Here are two examples.

Plantduino Greenhouse

As an undergrad, one student created an automated watering and temperature system using Arduinos. Arduinos is an open-source electronics prototyping platform — microcontroller boards that receive input from sensors to control things like lights, motors and other actuators. Arduinos
are very inexpensive — most costing around $150.

“Arduino is good for students to learn about how to develop those control structures and circut boards,” Van de Vegte says.

The Plantduino Greenhouse project includes sensors that will turn the systems on only when needed. “This is essential when the ever-changing New England weather demands some intelligence in watering and heating patterns,” student engineer Clover says in her tutorial on the project on Instructables.com.

 

 

MIT’s Self-Assembling Robots

Researchers at MIT are working on a self-assembling robot project. In its current state, the M-Blocks project consists of 1.5-inch tall cubes with internal flywheels and surface magnets, allowing the blocks to spin, jump, flip and assemble on their own. In an article in Wired magazine, the researchers say they see a future where the blocks could transform themselves into structures like a chair, ladder or desk on demand.

 

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