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Makerspace Students Awarded Grant to Combat Food Deserts

November 13, 2019
Miami Valley School

Students at The Miami Valley School have been awarded a $2,200 grant from The Ohio EPA to tackle a real world issue food desert affecting the Dayton region.

Faculty Member Linda Hallinan leads the Makerspace/Computer Science classroom and said students were awarded the grant to work in collaboration with the Zorniger Environmental Lab in an effort to develop a system that can be deployed in food desert regions to provide needed access to fresh foods.

“This opportunity presented such an amazing chance for the students to deploy what they are learning and affect real change in the community,” Hallinan said.

Students will design, build, and maintain a vertical hydroponics system within different configurations of vertical gardening beds. Students will then conduct multiple “design of experiments” to find out the most efficient watering methods as well as media in which to grow their plants. Students also will use technology, including soil moisture sensors, temperature sensors, light sensors and design a “real-time” monitoring camera system, utilizing a Raspberry Pi, to record and analyze growth data.

The students are partnering with community partners Mission of Mary Farm and The Dayton Food Bank, to whom students will present their findings along with best practices and improve the supply of fresh produce to the Miami Valley.

“This project will assist my students in carrying out a need for the community, helping them to be better stewards of the Earth, and helping them to be future scientists,” Hallinan said.

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