HAPI team brings multi-dimensional educational opportunities to the high school classroom

The HAPI Project has announced a col­lab­o­ra­tion effort with the East Hick­man High School to build an envi­ron­ment mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem to pro­vide near real time infor­ma­tion about the grow­ing con­di­tions inside the school’s teach­ing green­house to assure the plants and fish are well cared for.

A recent elec­tri­cal prob­lem caused an air pump fail­ure which led to the loss of near­ly all of the fish the stu­dents raised for an end of year fish fry.  “The pump fail­ure took place on a Sun­day after­noon; so no one knew about the prob­lem until Mon­day and by then it was too late. Accord­ing to David Flow­ers, the instruc­tor over the green­house facil­i­ty, “It hap­pened after a dai­ly check, and only took a few hours before the fish start­ed dying.”  In the sum­mer months the green­house is only checked once a day.

HAPI team mem­ber, Mark Miller who lives near the school heard of the fish kill and told Flow­ers about the HAPI efforts.  “There was a per­fect fit.  Sim­ple tech­nol­o­gy, the need and the aca­d­e­m­ic set­ting,” said Miller.  A brief dis­cus­sion, a few phone calls to super­vi­sors, some enthu­si­as­tic feed­back from stu­dents and the project was born.

Stu­dents will design the mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem based on what infor­ma­tion they need to oper­ate their facil­i­ty.  They will learn about the capa­bil­i­ties and recent trends in com­put­er and elec­tron­ics towards mak­ing it your­self. They will build, install and pro­gram the sys­tem with the help of the HAPI team.

The Hydro­pon­ic Automa­tion Plat­form Ini­tia­tive (HAPI) team is focused on devel­op­ing and shar­ing low-cost tech­niques and tech­nolo­gies for pre­ci­sion agri­cul­ture.  A major part of the HAPI effort is edu­ca­tion.  “The high school green­house is the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to share HAPI tech­nol­o­gy”, said Tyler Reed, the founder of the HAPI project.  The project is Open Source, Open Hard­ware and the open and free shar­ing of infor­ma­tion is the heart of the phi­los­o­phy.

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The green­house at East Hick­man high school

The hard­ware required to imple­ment the sys­tem at the green­house is being pro­vid­ed to the school free of charge.  A grant from Cor­pal, Inc., a Nashville-based HAPI sup­port­er is pro­vid­ing the com­put­er, the sen­sors and the var­i­ous com­po­nents need­ed.  The school is pro­vid­ing low-volt­age wiring and the labor to install the sys­tem.

A com­mer­cial solu­tion is cost pro­hib­i­tive, so HAPI is a great fit for us. The HAPI team has the exper­tise to ensure our efforts are suc­cess­ful.  While the tech­nol­o­gy is not cut­ting edge it is new and unknown to us.  HAPI will par­tic­i­pate in the edu­ca­tion­al pro­gram to inform stu­dents about key tech­nolo­gies. It’s not enough to put a sys­tem in place and walk away. Not when we can also teach the kids what the sys­tem does, why it’s need­ed and how it works. It opens up the edu­ca­tion­al pos­si­bil­i­ties of the green­house.

In addi­tion to teach­ing the biol­o­gy, chem­istry and agri­cul­ture sides we can now pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ty for hands on learn­ing about pro­gram­ming, elec­tron­ics, net­work­ing and data com­mu­ni­ca­tions. There are a num­ber of past stu­dents oper­at­ing their own green­hous­es and try­ing to make a liv­ing. This type of knowl­edge could be invalu­able to them and their suc­cess. “If we can stim­u­late just one kid to pur­sue a latent inter­est in sci­ence or engi­neer­ing; then we have suc­ceed­ed as edu­ca­tors,” said Flow­ers.

Flow­ers sum­ma­rized with, “We’re thrilled to have HAPI as an exten­sion of our green­house and our edu­ca­tion­al capa­bil­i­ty. We don’t have the exper­tise, yet, to teach the com­put­er and elec­tron­ics side, but with the HAPI team as a guest in our class­room we are learn­ing. It’s an excel­lent project for a school to be involved with.”

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