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After a long well deserved weekend, we are back with our second post #lockdownwithkids With some delays (sorry for that), we wanted to offer a specific post to celebrate the International Workers Day through the French tradition of "Lily of the Valley".

A bit of history

Lily of the Valley ... Really? On 1 May 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of the valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime, on 1 May. Nowadays, people may present loved ones either with bunches of lily of the valley or dog rose flowers.

May Day in a glance. International Workers' Day, also known as Workers' Day or Labour Day and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement which occurs every year on May Day (1 May), an ancient European spring festival. The earliest known May celebrations appeared with the Floralia, the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, held from 27 April – 3 May during the Roman Republic era, and the Maiouma or Maiuma, a festival celebrating Dionysus and Aphrodite held every three years during the month of May.

To celebrate this international holiday, the Let's STEAM consortium wants to offer you thematic contents to enjoy spring and flowers.

Let's discover smart gardening, the science of genetics and the beauty of flowers!

International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day

Guerrilla gardening is a global ecological movement focusing on bringing beauty and environmental positive effects on neglected public spaces. Ideally, they would like to see an increase in public space where gardeners can grow plants that are beautiful, functional, and/or tasty. The International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day, scheduled on the 1st of May of every year, is an annual international event when guerrilla gardeners, plant sunflowers in their neighbourhoods, typically in public places perceived to be neglected, such as tree pits, flower beds and roadside verges. It has taken place since 2007 and was conceived by guerrilla gardeners in Brussels, (who go by the name of The Brussels Farmers). They declared it Journée Internationale de la Guérilla Tournesol. It has been championed by guerrilla gardeners around the world, and participation has grown each year since then.

Within the scope of Guerilla Gardening - not considering the political debate but the artistic commitment to beautify urban areas - it is actually very interesting to sensibilise kids to the question of biodiversity in urban areas and understanding the role of ecosystems.

To ease this dialogue, a very interesting DIY activity, introducing basics of upcycling, ecosystemic gardening approaches and environmental value of urban community farming, is the creation of "seed bombs". Seed bombs are a compact mass of organic peat-free compost and seeds. They are handmade from recycled, organic and biodegradable materials. These are the easy alternative to high maintenance gardening. They can be easily put in medians, and other neglected areas.

Sensors for Smart Gardening

More and more technologies are aiming to help to lower our carbon footprint. Such technology can enhance plant care, help with landscape design and inform us of the best plants for specific sites. Here are an overview of several technologies that can be considered as part of "Smart Gardening":

  • Smart plant monitors – There are many plant monitors available to introduce technology to the beginning gardeners. Many of these are simply inserted into the soil and can take measurements of moisture levels, track light and humidity, and even analyze soil while determining the nutrients in the soil.

  • Smart gardens – Indoor gardens take the guesswork out of growing your own food or herbs. Most are self-contained systems that provide light, automatic watering, fertilizer and customized heat levels. All you need to do is plant or sow the seed and the unit does the rest.

  • Smart sprinklers – Smart sprinklers do more than just schedule irrigation. They can determine breaks and leaks in the system, save water, adjust to accommodate weather and often can be monitored and changed via your phone or computer.

  • Gardening apps – Garden apps can help with design, plant ID, placement of irrigation, solve problem areas and much more.

  • Smart mowers – Mowbot is an automated lawnmower. It operates similarly to robotic vacuums only in a mower. No more sweating in the hot sun trying to get the lawn cut.

  • Robotic weeders – A product under development is Tertill, a solar-powered weeding robot. The idea is that you simply place the product out in a sunny location of the garden and it will weed for you. No more back-breaking stooping or use of chemicals.

Discover hereunder several activities you can develop with kids based on Arduino and Micro:bit IoT boards:

Robotic projects - FarmBot - A 100% open-source CNC Farming system

How cool is this! FarmBot is an open-source precision agriculture CNC farming project consisting of a Cartesian coordinate robot farming machine, software and documentation including a farming data repository.The project aims to "Create an open and accessible technology aiding everyone to grow food and to grow food for everyone." FarmBot is an open-source project allowing hardware, software and documentation modifications and additions from users.

FarmBot in Education. FarmBot at the university level can be used in a multi-generational, research-based fashion that engages undergraduate students, doc students, and faculty. The powerful sequence editor, integrated camera, and firmware plugin system can be used to design experiments of any type, while precision movements along all three axes deliver repeatable results.

FarmBot in middle schools provides a cutting-edge, hands-on, and engaging project for students to learn a variety of STEM subjects. Plant science, coding, operation of CNC equipment, electronics, and hardware engineering just scratch the surface.

To go further - Scientist of the Day

Discover Gregor Mendel, founder of the modern science of genetics. Though farmers had known for millennia that crossbreeding of animals and plants could favour certain desirable traits, Mendel's pea plant experiments conducted between 1856 and 1863 established many of the rules of heredity, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance.

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