Natasha Anderson & Sam Casadei, SELA Cohort 2019
Using this setup we can collect data and see how this has affected the growth of the basil and we can see how it reacts to different conditions and use this data to formulate a ‘best case scenario’ set of conditions through AI and machine learning.
We are hoping that at the end of the project we can reach number of targets:
1. Make personal home grown produce more attainable to the ‘average’ consumer
This project aims to create equipment that is ‘plug and play’, with an easy to use guide, so that even those with no prior experience of Raspberry Pi and local food growing will be able to know exactly what conditions their plants need.
This research is currently centered on generating data from basil as a test crop, and we plan to work with Regather to continue the experiments with other crops, as a community engagement event. Ideally, the user will select a type of plant to grow, and the monitoring system will be able to give insightful prompts on the conditions of the plants, allowing for easy care with best results.
2. Create an interest in STEM for young children, with an easy to use, safe, plug and play kit.
Practical hands on kits have proven invaluable for children as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic . In a similar vein, a ‘do it yourself at home’ kit is likely to have a similar uptake. Showing how user-friendly the kit is will be another example of how technology can be beneficial, and aims to get children hands on and creative. This also promotes the benefits of practical based learning. Although outside the immediate scope of the project, it would be feasible to roll out the system to a wider audience, and work with local schools to look to integrate the kits within a classroom environment, to act as a central source of interactive teaching.
3. Drive interest from the younger generation into how food is produced
4. Collaboration with local companies, and local support groups, to drive nationwide interest in the project.
One of the fundamental aspects of this design was to work closely with local suppliers in Sheffield, in order to promote locally available material. Pimoroni has been the main supplier for the technology for the project, and also has a highly active forum of nationwide users of Raspberry Pi. They were also able to provide advice on the best products to use.
A local company, Grobotic Systems, has also been directly involved with shaping technology, and several meetings have been conducted in order to design a suitable sensing design. They have direct experience with growing herbs and vegetables in controlled environments, and their experience was crucial to ensure that this design would be optimised for its specific use.
 Kosmos, S., 2021. Surge in demand for STEM toys and science kits ‘will continue well into 2021’ says Thames & Kosmos - ToyNews. [online] ToyNews. Available at: <www.toynews-online.biz/2020/11/20/surge-in-demand-for-stem-toys-and-science-kits-will-continue-well-into-2021-says-thames-kosmos>