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MEASURING GROWTH CONDITIONS OF SALAD PLANTS USING SENSORS: A HIGH SCHOOL PROJECT

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Abstract

Geoinformatics (GI) education is widely used as a spatial visualization-interdisciplinary tools for its ability to understand the geographical phenomenon around us in the past and model the future scenario. Its global importance and usage have made the need of disseminating the education with public and school students. The MSc. Students of different backgrounds at Institute for Geoinformatics in the University of Munster were involved in one of such works through the seminar cum project on ‘Transdisciplinary education in Geoinformatics’ through GI@School Lab with the aim of engaging high school students on applying GI knowledge on Agriculture. The grade 12 students were presented with the ongoing GI empowered research projects at first such that the school students developed the project ideas of their interests to use GI on agricultural sectors based on which MSc students developed 4 different projects and Growth Condition (Sensors) is one of them. This project aims to determine the best suited condition for Salad plants growth based on the size of the Salad leaves measured after monitoring the growth of the plants by planting them on 4 plastic boxes filled with same soil type but in different lighting conditions and water conditions to be measured by the concerned sensors to after the 8 weeks of indoor growth. The project execution week took place as the 5-day workshop and feedbacks were taken as questionnaire surveys from the participated students and concerned teachers for the project evaluation. The sensors-collected data could even serve as the ground truth data of a citizen observatory projects for Copernicus in-situ component. The whole project aims at reducing generational gaps between the students by bringing them the opportunity for knowledge co-creation through transdisciplinary projects on agricultural sector using GI technologies.
MEASURING GROWTH CONDITIONS OF SALAD PLANTS USING SENSORS: A HIGH
SCHOOL PROJECT
L. Thapa 1, *, H. Naseer 1 , S. El-kaiy 1, T. Bartoschek 1
1 Institute for Geoinformatics, University of Munster (l_thap01, h_nase01, s_elka01, bartoschek)@uni-muenster.de
Commission V, SS: Student Session
KEY WORDS: Geoinformatics, High School Students, Agriculture, Sensors, Growth Conditions
ABSTRACT:
Geoinformatics (GI) education is widely used as a spatial visualization-interdisciplinary tools for its ability to understand the
geographical phenomenon around us in the past and model the future scenario. Its global importance and usage have made the need
of disseminating the education with public and school students. The MSc. Students of different backgrounds at Institute for
Geoinformatics in the University of Munster were involved in one of such works through the seminar cum project on
‘Transdisciplinary education in Geoinformatics’ through GI@School Lab with the aim of engaging high school students on applying
GI knowledge on Agriculture. The grade 12 students were presented with the ongoing GI empowered research projects at first such
that the school students developed the project ideas of their interests to use GI on agricultural sectors based on which MSc students
developed 4 different projects and Growth Condition (Sensors) is one of them. This project aims to determine the best suited
condition for Salad plants growth based on the size of the Salad leaves measured after monitoring the growth of the plants by
planting them on 4 plastic boxes filled with same soil type but in different lighting conditions and water conditions to be measured
by the concerned sensors to after the 8 weeks of indoor growth. The project execution week took place as the 5-day workshop and
feedbacks were taken as questionnaire surveys from the participated students and concerned teachers for the project evaluation. The
sensors-collected data could even serve as the ground truth data of a citizen observatory projects for Copernicus in-situ component.
The whole project aims at reducing generational gaps between the students by bringing them the opportunity for knowledge co-
creation through transdisciplinary projects on agricultural sector using GI technologies.
* Corresponding author
1. INTRODUCTION
1.1 General Background
Geoinformatics, with its everyday applications in navigation for
commutation to modelling complex spatio-temporal behaviour
of natural phenomenon, has been emerging as a ubiquitous
spatial visualization-interdisciplinary tools to support decision
making. Disseminating geoinformatics (GI) knowledge to the
school students not only form the foundation of GI Science but
also make them familiar with the technological aspects of
addressing global earth challenges like climate change, global
warming, food security. Besides, the high school education may
not be able to incorporate everyday advancing Science,
Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) knowledge in
its syllabus. So, collaborating with the K-12 School for this type
of project can bridge gaps between the school students and
current scientific developments by transferring knowledge and
research from the University labs. Also, linking school students
and graduate students through such transdisciplinary projects
provide the platform for knowledge co-creation and can reduce
transgenerational communication gaps in education.
1.2 Project Introduction
The GI@School Lab, started as a student driven initiative of
IFGI in 2006 has been continuously working on GI Science
research and development activities by collaborating with high-
school students and teachers (K-12) as its main target groups.
The students are involved in courses and project weeks that lead
to the development of products such as educational resources,
software, mobile apps, web-portals and hardware, while the
teachers are included in trainings to include GI Science and GI
Systems in the regular subjects. This project resembles one of
the similar activities that is being carried out in cooperation
with teachers and high-school students from Anne-Frank-
Gesamtschule located in Havixbeck, Germany. The specific
theme has been set every year for each of the projects since
2008; theme for this year is agriculture and its future. So, all the
activities carried out this year through the project aim to study
the past of agriculture; to understand the present scenario; to
ponder how the future scenario can be by sing GI science
concepts, technology and tools through the engagement of the
Grade 12 student from Havixbeck and MSc students from IFGI.
The project was executed in two parts: first, the seminar that
involved the visit of 78 high school students to the Institute for
Geoinformatics (IFGI) at University of Muenster. They were
presented with the ongoing GI empowered research at the
Institute based on which school students presented 8 different
group ideas that can be applied in the agricultural sectors
through the posters. Then MSc. Students at IFGI taking the
course “Transdisciplinary Education in Geoinformatics”
developed 4 group projects namely historical data (climate,
satellite), counting insects, growth conditions (sensors) and
agricultural vehicle/robot by addressing their ideas from
presentations; one additional group was created as a media
The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XLII-5, 2018
ISPRS TC V Mid-term Symposium “Geospatial Technology – Pixel to People”, 20–23 November 2018, Dehradun, India
This contribution has been peer-reviewed.
https://doi.org/10.5194/isprs-archives-XLII-5-813-2018 | © Authors 2018. CC BY 4.0 License.
813
group to create the video product of the project. The further
work involved the interaction with school students by
presenting them the printed poster versions of projects during
the school visit and asking their comments on each of the
projects. With all the suggestions incorporated, preparations
were carried out by the MSc Students to teach the school
students on how to do their respective projects. The second part
involved 5-day workshop on September 17-21, 2018 to execute
the project ideas into reality by integrating Msc. Students and
71 students from the school for knowledge sharing and co-
creation. The final outcome of whole project involved ArcGIS
Online story maps showing the vegetation changes on historical
satellite images and drone images on Google Earth Engine code
editor by computing Normalized Difference Vegetation Index
(NDVI), identification of different insects species, their
locations and insects hotels creation, fully autonomous-driving
robot that can be tracked and is able to collect geodata for
automatic upload in open sense map, best temperature-water
condition for Salad plants by teaching the school students the
theoretical and practical knowledge associated with geospatial
technologies involving both the image analysis, sensor
technology, programming and entomology with the learning by
doing approach under the direct supervision of MSc students.
a.
b.
Figure 1: a. presenting ongoing research about senseBox in
IFGI, b. school students presenting their project ideas
1.3 Context on Growth Condition (Sensor) Project
Geoinformatics has ample of applications, and offers many GI-
tools in understanding the various aspects of agriculture,
analysing its data and suggesting the necessary measures for
future enhancement. Agriculture is one of the most important
profession around the globe that is directly related with food
security. The food we eat is grown through different plants, the
plants are nurtured and supplied to us through various
agricultural activity. Monitoring plant growth and ensuring the
best condition for its growth is very essential for high yield.
Also, climate change with variations in temperature and
rains/drought are disturbing the natural growth of plants. So,
creating an artificial environment with best suited temperature
and watering condition can help to combat with the changing
climate and its influence on the plant’s growth and production.
This project aims to use different sensors to monitor the growth
of Salad plants to be planted in 4 plastic boxes with different
temperature, amount of water supply and LED light conditions
for 8 weeks of observation. The final result will be the
identification of suitable condition of Salad plant growth to be
measured by the length of leaves of these plants.
2. PROJECT EXECUUTION
2.1 Organization and Task Division
The project week started on Monday, September 17th 2018 at
08:30 am in the lecture hall of the Geo 1 building at the
University of Münster; brief introduction about the project was
given to all the participants including students, teachers,
professors and invited subject experts and lasted till September
21st, 2018. 18 students interested in this project were mentored
by 2 of the Master students and a SenseBox expert from
GI@School Lab and, following activities were carried out
during the 5 days’ workshop:
Day
Location
Activity
Participants
Monday
IFGI
Developing
background on
SenseBox,
Sensors and
Arduino
18 students
divided in the
group of 6
students; 2
Supervisor
(MSc students)
from IFGI
Tuesday
Havixbeck
School
Environmental
Setting (Finding
physical location
for plastic boxes,
setting with
soils/Watering
System, Power
Supply, Digital
clock)
18 students
divided in the
group of 6
students; 2
Supervisor
(MSc students)
from IFGI
Wednesday
Havixbeck
School
Building data
loggers, Placing
Sensors/planting
Salad
seeds/Instructions
on growth
conditions
18 students
divided in the
group of 6
students; 2
Supervisor
(MSc students)
from IFGI
Thursday
Havixbeck
School
Possible ways of
observing
collected data,
18 students
divided in the
group of 6
The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XLII-5, 2018
ISPRS TC V Mid-term Symposium “Geospatial Technology – Pixel to People”, 20–23 November 2018, Dehradun, India
This contribution has been peer-reviewed.
https://doi.org/10.5194/isprs-archives-XLII-5-813-2018 | © Authors 2018. CC BY 4.0 License.
814
analysis on
collected dummy
data, instructions
on monitoring
the growth,
preparing
presentation
content.
students; 2
Supervisor
(MSc students)
from IFGI
Friday
School
Final
Presentation
3 Student
Representatives
of the project.
Table 2: Daily Activity schedule during project week
With the theoretical background on sensors, their importance,
practical exercises on Arduino on blockly carried out on
University, rest of the work: setting up the environment of Salad
plants growth, fitting the sensors through the senseBox and
starting the measurement were carried out in the school.
2.2 Tools and Methods used
The project uses senseBox, one of the products of GI@School
developed as a Citizen Science Toolkit for home and schools.
The senseBox is a do-it-yourself kit for stationary and mobile
sensor stations, following the concepts of open science that
allows setting sensors stations for measuring environmental data
on climate, air quality, traffic, noise and others in a location-
specific way. It promotes digital education and is usable as a
class box that consists of an Arduino Uno microcontroller,
circuits components, different sensors and data storage device
[1].
The sensors used in the project includes waterproof digital
temperature and soil moisture sensor fitted externally by
connecting with senseBox, air temperature and visible light
sensors already built -in with the senseBox were used.
The senseBox supports Arduino programming for automatically
measuring the data from sensors. The students were taught how
to program in Arduino and use blockly, the online platform
having the blocks of in-built codes that is able to generate the
Arduino codes at IFGI building in the University. Though
blockly was easy to learn, students learnt and coded with
Arduino because of internet problems. Also, the theoretical
background on sensors, their importance in agriculture
monitoring were taught to students. Students were engaged in
the whole 5 days with the activities mentioned in the Table 2.
Four plastic boxes filled with soil were kept inside the school to
create indoor environments; the waterproof temperature
measuring sensor for measuring soil temperature, soil moisture
sensor for measuring the water content supplied and visible
light sensors are fitted to each of the boxes along with the LED
bulbs (Figure 2). The Salad seeds were planted on each of those
boxes. Different criteria were set in all four boxes; low light and
low water, low light and high water, high light and low water,
high light and high water. To control the lighting system, two
bulbs have been fitted such that the high light includes the
lighting of both the bulbs and low light includes the lighting of
only one bulb; also, two different water amounts have been set
for the low and high-water conditions. All the plastic boxes are
enclosed by the external black plastic garbage bags to avoid the
interference of external environment. Besides, air temperature
sensor and humidity sensor from the SenseBox are also kept
outside the boxes to measure the outside air conditions to see if
it has any impact on the growth of salad plants enclosed in the
boxes. Two students, on a rotational basis to make sure all will
participate, have been assigned for pouring the water 3 times a
week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the plants.
a. b.
c.
Figure 3: a. sensors to be put inside the plastic box field and
their connection for senseBox, b. plastic box simulated as salad
plants field filled with soil and necessary sensors connection, c.
environmental setup for salad plant growth
Figure 3: Presentation about the workshop week’s progress to
the mass
3. RESULT AND DISCUSSION
The students are taking care of the growth conditions and, are
also controlling the artificial growth conditions with the
watering plan created earlier. The lighting and irrigation
conditions are being measured by the senseBox. The project
will last for 8 weeks and still 6 more weeks are left to know the
best suited conditions for the Salad plants. The suitable
condition for growth of the plant will be determined based on
The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XLII-5, 2018
ISPRS TC V Mid-term Symposium “Geospatial Technology – Pixel to People”, 20–23 November 2018, Dehradun, India
This contribution has been peer-reviewed.
https://doi.org/10.5194/isprs-archives-XLII-5-813-2018 | © Authors 2018. CC BY 4.0 License.
815
the correlation between the measured values and the leaf sizes
of the salad plants.
3.1 Evaluation
Since the project not only aims the best suitable condition of
plant growth but also the knowledge sharing among different
generations of students and to provide the school students with
knowledge on sensors and GI, evaluations have been done
based on the questionnaire surveys by participating the students
in it to share their experiences throughout the workshop.
Though all the tasks were technically challenging, students
found interesting to explore Arduino and senseBox with
different sensors. Some students already familiar with Arduino
found it easy to do the programming and to build data loggers
for the sensors whereas it was new to most of the students but
the students learnt and built the data loggers for the sensors in
short time of interval. As per the questionnaire survey
participated by the 24 students for the whole 5 project groups,
21.7 % students participated in this project survey; highest
number of the students, 29.2% of the students voted for the
grade 1 and lowest, 12.5% voted for the grade 5 with no voting
for grade 6 and rest of the votes are in between grade 1 to 4 on
the scale of 1 to 6 for Excellent to not interesting. While
exploring the questionnaire further, the main reasons for the less
grade included the difficulties associated with programming.
Except for the one student who found the duration long, other
students were satisfied or wanted longer time for the workshop.
Regarding the evaluations on the supervisors, majority of the
students (>60%) agreed about the supervisors (MSc Students)
being active, motivating and enthusiastic, whereas few (20%)
thought that the supervisors were not consistently active
throughout the project. Also, 14 students showed their
willingness to continue learning about the projects in future and
19 students were happy with their own performances.
Based on the attendance, all the students, except 1 absent on the
first day participated the workshop actively and presented their
works and findings obtained so far to the big mass of school
students in order to share and motivate other students as well
for their engagement in similar projects. Both the supervisors
and the students found the project very successful in terms of
knowledge exchange and learning by doing approach.
Though only 33% of the students participated in the voting, it is
a self-assessment for the future works regarding the difficulty
level of programming to be taught to students, time duration,
tasks management and ways of being proactive for both the
students and supervisors.
4. CONCLUSION
This project provides school students with the knowledge about
applications of sensors in agriculture, particularly for
monitoring plant growth by measuring climate factors, how to
use senseBox by using Arduino programming and blockly,
visualization of sensors data in open sensemap. Besides, such
projects provide Msc students, the ideas of sharing knowledge
with school students and school students, the ideas about recent
research happening in the field of STEM and GI fields thereby
bridging the transgenerational gap in knowledge sharing and co-
creation. It further creates awareness among students on how
can they contribute to the global Earth Observation program
like Copernicus through local data measurement as citizen
observatory projects and develops the interests among the
students to pursue their future career in these fields.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The authors are thankful to GI@School Lab at IFGI, University
of Muenster for its full support to carry out the project and
Anne-Frank-Gesamtschule located in Havixbeck, Germany for
providing the students and location for the workshop.
REFERENCES
Copernicus In Situ Component (no date). Available at:
https://insitu.copernicus.eu/ (Accessed: 11 August 2018).
senseBox (no date). Available at:
https://blockly.sensebox.de/ardublockly/?lang=de&board=sense
Box-mcu (Accessed: 5 October 2018).
[1] senseBox | The box with meaning (no date). Available at:
https://sensebox.de/de/background (Accessed: 4 October 2018).
Soil Moisture Sensor Hookup Guide - learn.sparkfun.com (no
date). Available at: https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/soil-
moisture-sensor-hookup-
guide?_ga=2.26402238.260308524.1531141621-
27694235.1512467036 (Accessed: 4 October 2018).
Wirwahn, J. A. and Bartoschek, T., 2015 Usability Engineering
For Successful Open Citizen Science. Free and Open Source
Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) Conference Proceedings:
Vol. 15, Article 54.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.7275/R54J0C9W
The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XLII-5, 2018
ISPRS TC V Mid-term Symposium “Geospatial Technology – Pixel to People”, 20–23 November 2018, Dehradun, India
This contribution has been peer-reviewed.
https://doi.org/10.5194/isprs-archives-XLII-5-813-2018 | © Authors 2018. CC BY 4.0 License.
816
... This toolset makes it easy to share, access and analyze environmental data. Researchers are using the openSenseMap and its data in various applications such as analysis or as sample data for bench marking [8,9,21,23,27,28]. Users need an environmental monitoring station to actively take part and share data on the openSenseMap. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
This study examines the openSenseMap, an Open Data web platform for storing and analyzing sensor data. The openSenseMap consists of over 4000 sensor stations, is used by different citizen science projects and can be used with different hardware configurations. One hardware configuration is the senseBox, which is a Do-it-yourself Citizen Science toolkit. In an online survey, the users were asked about their motivations and personal benefits of participating in the project. A mixed-method approach has been used to obtain more in-depth information. This approach consists of open and closed questions and Likert scales regarding the topics scientific research and social community. The study has uncovered important aspects that can now help to improve the senseBox and openSenseMap. The results also provide valuable information for researchers to design approaches to attract participation from underrepresented groups.
  • J A Wirwahn
  • T Bartoschek
Wirwahn, J. A. and Bartoschek, T., 2015 Usability Engineering For Successful Open Citizen Science. Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) Conference Proceedings: Vol. 15, Article 54. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7275/R54J0C9W
The International Archives of the Photogrammetry
The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences, Volume XLII-5, 2018
Geospatial Technology-Pixel to People
  • Isprs Tc V Mid-Term
  • Symposium
ISPRS TC V Mid-term Symposium "Geospatial Technology-Pixel to People", 20-23 November 2018, Dehradun, India This contribution has been peer-reviewed.