The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Archive: 16/12/2019

Digital Media Lab Operations Change Due to COVID-19

The Digital Media Lab has modified its offerings due to COVID-19.  You can find information about these specific changes on the services pages.  Please contact DML staff with any questions, dml@library.umass.edu. 

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Here are a selection of projects the Digital Media Lab have collaborated on. 

The goal of this project is the develop a learning activity that could be used in a makerspace or classroom that introduces food deserts and sustainable gardening solutions, then participants will design solutions for a sustainable garden.  While this is designed for small groups, individuals may use it for individual learning.   

This project is a work-in-progress.  If there are any concerns about methodology or accessibility, please email Dennis Spencer, dcspence@umass.edu, for feedback.   

Companion Activity

A companion learning activity, Food Insecurities:  Food Deserts and Sustainable Solutions,  is available in which participants learn about food deserts and design a sustainable garden in their local area.  


ACTIVITY OBJECTIVE

Student will build a minimally viable product related to one type of a sustainable gardening solution, a self watering system or hydroponics. 

ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION

Students will build one type of sustainable gardening and present their project to the group.  They will need to determine what plants to grow, lighting, and the electronics to processes to manage growth (ph sensor, moisture sensor, etc).  Optional: Students are asked how they would scale their solutions to work in a community garden.      

  • Title of Lesson:  Sustainable Gardening Options
  • Grade Level(s) :  Higher Education
  • Essential Question:  What are the pros/cons of the two sustainable gardening solutions?

INTERDISCIPLINARY CONTENT STANDARD/ LEARNING OBJECTIVE

Students will be able to learn about sustainable horticulture, programming, engineering, electronics.

Description of Lesson

  1. Review videos 
  2. Split into groups and determine the type of gardening solution to build.
  3. Ask students to write instructions for mapping code.  Review existing code and implement into their system. Build unit and test.
  4. Develop presentation about the benefits of the chosen solution and how to scale and present cost.  

Prompts

  1. What resources do you already have?
  2. What materials can be repurposed for this project?
  3. What type of plants will you grow?
  4. Will the plants be grown indoors or outdoors?
  5. What types of lights are available for indoor growing?
  6. How could either solution be scaled to support a larger garden?

LOGISTICS

1 project per 2 persons.  Presentations are 3-5 minutes.  

BUDGET

  • Self watering system:  $140 parts, plant
  • Hydroponics: ???  reservoir, pump, nutrients, plants, cups, medium to grow, ph sensor, Arduino

SKILLS

  • Critical Thinking
  • Design
  • Collaboration
  • Computational Thinking
  • Technology Literacy

IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGY

Implemented in small groups.  Challenges are learning programing concepts/writing, solder electronics,  lack of time, intimidation of programming/electronics.  

ASSESSMENT

Students will have a functioning proof of concept and present their solutions and, through that, demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter.  

RESOURCES

VIDEOS

PARTS

Simple Plan

Automatic Watering System for Plants Using Arduino
Cost:  Around $50.  Nutrient materials not included in price. 

Parts:

  1. Arduino
  2. Relay
  3. Pump
  4. Reservoir
  5. Moisture Sensor 
Moderate Plan

Aquabot: Arduino Gardening System
Cost:  Around $140

Parts - Links to parts are available on the tutorial web page.  

  1. Arduino Uno
  2. Small water pump
  3. Corrosion resistant soil moisture sensor
  4. Non contact liquid level sensor
  5. Jumper wires
  6. Switch
  7. Barrel jack
  8. A 9v and 12v power supply
  9. USB type A to B cable
  10. A small electronic beeper (piezoelectric alarm)
  11. A waterproof box
  12. Electrical tape
  13. Tubing to conduct the water from the pump. The pump I suggested comes with plenty
  14. Reservoir

The goal of this project is the develop a learning activity that could be used in a makerspace or classroom that introduces food deserts and sustainable gardening solutions, then participants will design solutions for a sustainable garden.  While this is designed for small groups, individuals may use it as a template for individual learning.   

This project is a work-in-progress.  If there are any concerns about methodology or accessibility, please email Dennis Spencer, dcspence@umass.edu, for feedback.  

Companion Activity

A companion learning activity, Food Insecurities:  Build a Solution,  is available in which participants learn to build a sustainable gardening solution.   


Activity Objective

Students will evaluate sustainable gardening options and design a sustainable community garden to combat food deserts.  

Activity Description

Students investigate food insecurities in a local community, who they affect and the impacts thereof, solutions, barriers.  Students will then explore sustainable gardening options and then design a community garden.  

  • Title of Lesson:  Sustainable Solutions for Food Deserts
  • Grade Level(s) :  Higher Education
  • Essential Question:  How do we combat food deserts?
  • Budget Required: $0

Interdisciplinary Content Standard/ Learning Objective

Students will be able to learn about food related health issues, sustainable horticulture, community engagement, and project planning.

Description of Lesson

  1. General schedule:
    1. First Hour:  Research food deserts, sustainable solutions, and develop user profiles based on local community demographics.
    2. Second Hour:  Design a community garden for local community.  Teacher can provide locations.  
    3. Third Hour:  Groups will share out their proposals with class.     
  2. Students will research: 
    1. Food deserts and the impacts they have on individuals and communities. 
    2. Sustainable gardening solutions like hydroponics, irrigation systems, aquaponics, vertical gardening, square foot gardening.  
    3. Local demographics
  3. Students will develop user profiles to help decision making regarding community engagement.
  4. Preselected sites will be presented to the student to evaluate if and how they would design a community garden using sustainable gardening methods.  
  5. Students present their community garden proposal explaining rationale for design.  Students share how its sustainable and provide a strategy for community engagement.  
  6. Prompt Examples
  7. Gardening
    1. What methods of growing should be utilized?  
    2. What type of food should be produced?
    3. What is the sustainable plan?  Who manages site/volunteers? System maintenance?  
  8. Construction
    1. What location logistics should be considered?
    2. What resources will be needed to build the garden?
    3. How will building costs be minimized?  
  9. Community Engagement
    1. How do students get to know our community?
    2. How do students engage with the community?
    3. How we students get community to embrace initiative (assist growing/eat food stuff)?  

Logistics

1 presentation per group of 3 students.  Presentations are 5-10 minutes.  

Team Roles:

  • Gardening
  • Construction 
  • Community Engagement 

Implementation Strategy

The lessons will be formatted for small groups.  Challenges are internet availability, device availability, students feeling intimidated by scope of project and time constraints.     

Assessment

Students will present their solutions and, through that, demonstrate their understanding of the subject matter.  

Skill Types

  • Data analysis
  • Critical Thinking
  • Communication
  • Design
  • Collaboration

Resources

Food Deserts

Sustainable Gardening