FarmBeats for Students

Today’s farms are beginning to look a lot more like smart cities. Growers use innovative tools like sensors, computer vision, and artificial intelligence (AI) to acquire a deeper understanding of their crops. These methods help farmers use data to make better decisions, discover inefficiencies, and unlock new insights into food production and resource management. The FarmBeats for Students program brings these modern techniques into the hands of today’s learners.

Program overview

The program combines an affordable micro:bit-based hardware kit with curated curriculum and activities designed to give students hands-on experience in precision agriculture. The learning progression enables students to easily see the impact of modern tools and the opportunities within agriculture.

FarmBeats for Students can be run using any device with a web browser, making it easily accessible for everyone.

Through the FarmBeats for Students program, students build a garden monitoring system and learn about AI, data analysis, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Section 1: Gathering data through sensors

Students assemble a simple plant monitoring kit, consisting of a micro:bit equipped with environmental sensors. Using MakeCode and the kit, students gather data about the health of their crops, analyze their sensor data, and construct a system to react to soil conditions.

Section 2: Analyzing "big data"

Next, students are introduced to data visualization tools in Excel. They engage with big data sets to extract intelligence and make decisions about the best locations for a greenhouse.

Section 3: Unlocking data insights with AI

Finally, students build their own machine learning models, applying the technique to predict nutrient imbalances in their plants and identify pests in their garden.

Photo of farm equipment in a field.

Alignment to academic standards

The FarmBeats for Students curriculum is aligned to AI4K12’s AI education guidelines that define what every student should know about AI. The curriculum is also aligned to these standards, agricultural concepts, and performance objectives:

Get started - FarmBeats for Students micro:bit version (new!)

Step 1: Download the micro:bit-based free curriculum (all files).

Or download individual components of the curriculum:

Step 2: Access MakeCode on any web browser.

Step 3: Purchase affordable hardware kits.

Other resources

FarmBeats for Students Version 1 curriculum (for Raspberry Pi)

FarmBeats for Students YouTube channel

Need help or have feedback?

Want more?

Integrate other hands-on STEM projects into your classroom: Try projects such as analyzing windspeed, increasing power with wind turbines, or measuring water quality. Learn more.

Go deeper with FarmBeats for Students: For advanced users looking to build off the FarmBeats for Students Raspberry Pi platform, the codebase and technical documentation are available in an open-source repository on GitHub. Access here.

Use the Excel workbook in Microsoft Teams: Create an assignment (FarmBeats for Students) in Microsoft Teams for Education and assign the Excel workbook to individual or small groups of students in a class. Groups turn in one copy of the assignment that is graded separately or together. Learn how.

Use Flip in the classroom: Flip is a free app from Microsoft where educators create safe, online groups for students to express their ideas asynchronously in short video, text, and audio messages. Promote peer-to-peer learning in your classroom while using the Introduction to the FarmBeats for Students curriculum. Learn how to get started.