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Edtech Advocacy &
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Project-Based CS Curriculum and Automating Hydroponics Using IoT

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Sunday, November 29, 8:00–9:00 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Daniel Ary  
Conley Ball  

Learn about a project-based computer science program for grades 7-12 in which students learn to use Arduino- and Wi-Fi-based microprocessor systems. See how students create a hydroponic garden that is Wi-Fi based, self-monitoring, self-irrigating and solar-powered.

Audience: Principals/head teachers, Teachers, Teacher education/higher ed faculty
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices not needed
Participant accounts, software and other materials: May be useful in taking notes and photos.
Topic: Project-, problem- & challenge-based learning
Grade level: 9-12
Subject area: Computer science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Shape, advance and accelerate a shared vision for empowered learning with technology by engaging with education stakeholders.
Additional detail: Student presentation

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this presentation is to give grade 7-12 teachers ideas on developing a project based computer science program in their own school. The hope is to advance STEM education and encourages the increase in meaningful STEM related capstone projects.
Participants will be shown a process to develop hands on, project based computer science courses for grades 7-12, starting with Big Board Arduino systems then moving to a microprocessor Arduino, the Nano, and finally moving to the Photon, a Wi-Fi based microprocessor system developed by the company Particle.
All lessons have embedded in them one or more computer projects. For example to teach the use of arrays in C programming the students are given an assignment to modify an existing project that utilizes a piezo buzzer, arrays and the function tone() and program a melody of their own choice of at least 20 notes to be played using the buzzer and the Arduino hardware.
This hands on hardware embedded approach has made my classes popular among our students both in the middle and high school. In addition it has fueled the interest of our students in project based computer science to the extent that the IoT Institute, I offer in the summer at Laguna Blanca School, has been a sellout every year.


The speaker will demonstrate how to interlace Arduino hardware/breadboard based projects to the teaching of the C programming language. Project examples will be shared and demonstrated along with their connection into the most common C language components (i.e. control structures, arrays, strings and functions to name a few). In addition some breadboard projects will demonstrate a few key electronic principals, such as how a voltage divider works and why we use diodes to protect circuits running DC motors. We will demonstrate how to use the PhET interactive simulation Circuit Construction Kit: DC. And then use it to verify Ohm’s Law and voltage divider calculations. There will be an example using the Photon hardware and the C programming software needed for its operation. Emphasis will be placed on communication via Wi-Fi and the Particle Cloud.
Hardware will be set up and run while the C programs/firmware will be displayed overhead. Hardcopy of each project will be distributed to the participants including their associated grading rubrics. The connections with the C programming language will be established and reinforced.
Our final activity will be a detailed review of this years capstone project the “The Autonomous Hydroponic Garden”.
Toward the end of each school year considerable time is spent on a student chosen capstone project. This year and last the group project involved an array of inexpensive Wi-Fi microprocessors, IoT devices, used to transfer sensor data. The data is then used to automate a hydroponic garden system through monitoring plant health, providing as needed irrigation, and keeping the 40 gallon water tank at the correct water level, properly maintained with the suitable pH and liquid fertilizer through a set of small 12 volt pumps. I will explore the issues in implementing that system, including the management of the students involved.
Real time video of the hydroponic garden will be shown. This will include the garden area, the placement of sensors involved and the moving/sun facing solar panel.

Supporting research

Programming Arduino: Getting Started with Sketches by Simon Monk ISBN-13: 978-1259641633

Make: Getting Started With the Photon by Simon Monk ISBN-13: 973-1457187018

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Daniel Ary, Laguna Blanca School

Dan Ary has taught for 27 years as a full-time instructor at Laguna Blanca School. He is an adjunct at SBCC and has been a Visiting Instructor at UCSB. His Masters is in Mathematics. In graduate school he held a Teaching Fellowship. He developed Project Based Computer Science courses at LBS focusing on C programming in a project based setting. He twice presented at the Showcase of Innovative Learning for the SBCEO on “Internet of Things (IoT)” remote sensors. He has developed and conducts an IoT Institute. He was invited to present at 2018 California STEAM Symposium and at ISTE19.

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