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Tech+Equation is a non-profit organization on a mission to accelerate career-readiness in STEM specific areas for K-12 (+4; College and University) students. To accomplish this our projects are designed to incorporate education and mentoring experiences for the students we work within different areas within STEM disciplines. We equip young learners with the knowledge and practical skills necessary for successful employment in today's economy while closing the digital divide in many cases. Tech+Equation offers engaging after school programs that keep children productive during the hours before their parents return home from work.
The SmartFarmNexus is a partnership of businesses, communities, and individuals. Beginning with a single smart farm box (or SmartBox), each SmartBox will start as a hydroponics system that grows food, i.e. vegetables, leafy greens, fresh fruits, spices, mushrooms, this project addresses the food desert challenge where deployed. Students are exposed to new skills through teaching and mentoring, i.e. gaining technology experience deploying sensors and capturing data (IoT); developing and maintaining data analytic workflows (data science) for real-world land and crop management; and managing and maintaining a safe and secure network system (ICT) with cybersecurity techniques and best practices. Each area of focus is an essential project and, cumulatively, these projects address the homework gap and the digital divide challenges where deployed. Partnering with local property owners, we are setting up and developing venues providing teaching and mentoring environments centered around building and maintaining a SmartBox. One of these projects' objectives is to implement maximum yield food growing microenvironments that are completely sustainable and capable of growing food and generating telemetry data for monitoring system-wide sustainability and security. A broader goal is to partner with local schools, making SmartBoxes available to all students via their campuses. Alternatively, continue the present course, the building and completion of the SmartFarmNexus in community accessible locations, where students will be invited on field trips to STEM+AG venues. Tech+Equation, Inc. has an excessive interest in the student experience. With project-based learning and mentoring, the overarching project will allow students to learn how to be independent problem-solvers where technology is concerned.
To reiterate, the broader goal is to implement the project through collaboration with school districts, colleges, and universities, and the greater community to have SmartBoxes on in proximal areas learners of all ages. The skills we are teaching will give student populations (including underrepresented individuals) the tools needed to acquire a job in the technology workforce, due to the IoT and programming experience they will obtain. We are providing students with the opportunity of learning about the iterative design phenomena so prevalent to big tech, starting at levels that are relevant to their community.
Throughout the implementation of the project, small milestones and objectives will be accomplished that are related to discovery sessions leading into project "go" day. Many of the boilerplate milestones have been mapped into the process of building and continuing to maintain the SmartFarmNexus project. The objectives entail educational and professional development and understanding of different key topics that the students will be exposed to throughout the project. From introducing students to carpentry and other skills such as electrical wiring, low voltage wiring, solar installation, telecommunications networking, hydroponic design/build, and climate control technology among other key instructional materials, students will also have the opportunity to develop their personal projects by participating in TIC+TOC.
To assess the success of the implementation of the project, we utilize entry and exit evaluations along with real-time observations utilized during key milestones we will identify throughout the project that are relevant to the cohort. The expectation is that the students will learn to maintain their SmartBox indefinitely and that peer-to-peer learning will be sustainable. This project is designed to be implemented during two 10-week programming periods. However, current circumstances (COVID-19) require clever planning and implementation. Custom timeline development will cause outcomes to vary from site to site. Additionally, it is important to note, that a project of this magnitude with the components of the proposed design-build would have had a significantly different and prohibitive price point 5 years ago.