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Winning work at Intel maker contest

Farm management automation

An aging population in Taiwan has resulted in a labor shortage in the agriculture sector, and food safety and ecological sustainability are becoming increasingly important under such a circumstance. Therefore, Zhao-shen Tsai(蔡兆琛), Chong-yi Chou(周重義), and Xiu-quan Yang(楊秀全), teachers at Daye Elementary School in Taoyuan, designed the farm management automation didactic unit, leading students to think and analyze farm management issues, develop solutions to such issues, and try to make a smart farm featuring energy efficiency and environmental protection as well as an organic, toxic-free ecosystem really happen.

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     Didactic unit: Farm management automation
     Discipline: Nature and life technology
     Suitable grade: Fifth grade
     Developers:  Zhao-shen Tsai (蔡兆琛),
         Chong-yi Chou (周重義),
          and Xiu-quan Yang(楊秀全),
          teachers at Daye Elementary
          School in Taoyuan

Didactic unit summary:
The combination of freeware Scratch (S4A) with open hardware stimulates students’ creativity and their maker spirit to develop an automated control system, preparing them for the digital era by providing them the necessary digitalization skills to enable smart life.

Development philosophy
The didactic unit design focuses on computational thinking and issue resolution, beginning with a plant that students are often in contact with and how to take care of the plant. Students are asked to identify relevant issues at class and in daily life and try to personally resolve the issues identified. Students are encouraged to do, think, share with each other, and face up to the challenges during a step-by-step learning process. What student can learn is not only programming but also key competencies for the future including issue resolution, logical thinking, and flexible creativity.
At the beginning, students are asked to identify how the plant should be taken of and the difficulties with how to take care of the plant to motivate them to resolve the difficulties. Students are then taught how to use thinking tools and divided into teams for brainstorming on how to help the plant grow better while making the life of growers easier, and are taught basic sensor functions to stimulate more creativity for more feasible alternatives. Lastly, students hand-make what they have learnt and try to cope with various challenges in operation and practice.

Words from developers
Because we did not have sufficient Intel development boards, at the beginning we tried to use Arduino Development Board, which is compatible with Galileo Development Board. Students proposed different solutions to same issues after their discussion by team, and their creative power mechanical engineering control designs demonstrated resources integration and the maker spirit. Although their concepts sometimes could not be perfectly presented due to the limits of their abilities and available facilities, their creative thinking and enthusiasm for issue resolution are very valuable. We will continue encouraging them in order to strengthen their learning effectiveness.
On the other hand, because students are unknowledgeable of electronic circuits, it was rather difficult to introduce development boards to them and teach circuit installation to them. In order to alleviate the frustration in learning, illustrated instructions had better be provided to students, so that they can follow such instructions to install electronic components and activate sensors and motors. By doing so, teaching can be streamlined significantly, too.

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