Social enterprise and artificial intelligence combine to improve the on-demand educational program
Popular Tech Tyfu Twf program uses vertical farming to inspire students to further their education and find employment in STEM subjects and teach skills in the workplace
Schoolchildren in Anglesey will gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge technology thanks to a groundbreaking collaboration between the non-profit Menter Môn’s Tech Tyfu project and Aberystwyth-based AI Agritech company Agxio. Launched in spring 2021, the Tech Tyfu Twf initiative is already in place in four secondary schools following overwhelming demand from teachers following the success of the pilot, with plans to roll it out further across Wales.
Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi’s overwhelmingly positive driver was part of an alternative learning program outside of the core curriculum. The school received a vertical farm, a full supply of consumables and expert support from project staff to design an educational project. The students grew their own produce and developed a salad bag to give away to parents, staff and local business owners.
Tech Tyfu Twf helps schools engage students in real-life projects, combining academic learning, engaging hands-on tasks, key skills development, and cutting-edge technology. Project staff help design and deliver tailored courses in vertical farming at all key high school stages, with flexible emphasis depending on program goals. A student shortage is shifting to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects, so the project uses current contexts such as climate change, business innovation and space exploration to inspire and keep his teaching exciting and relevant to the modern world.
Nia Wyn Jones, Deputy Director of Ysgol Uwchradd Caergybi, described the value of the program:
“We are very fortunate to have received a vertical farm through the Tech Tyfu Twf program. The unit was led by a group of grade 11 boys. In addition to growing healthy and tasty vegetables, the boys developed skills for work, including entrepreneurship, proactive problem avoidance, problem solving, marketing, teamwork, effective and clear communication, and meeting deadlines.
The Tech Tyfu project is one of Menter Môn’s enduring community collaborations with businesses, communities, the public sector and individuals.
Project Manager Catherine Pearson said of Tech Tyfu Twf:
“We are excited to partner with Agxio who will help us take our teaching to the next level. By collecting the school’s vertical agricultural data using the Mercury and then Ceres platforms, we can extend the reach of the project to different areas, creating applications for computer science, programming, data processing, and engineering.Having a visual representation of collected data allows students to develop a good understanding of how manipulation of environmental variables will affect growth of their cultures and will help them formulate their own research questions.
Award-winning company Agxio is the Welsh Government’s strategic partner for Agritech Innovation and is already working with Tech Tyfu officials on vertical farming projects in North Wales. Its advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence platform, Mercury, is used to optimize controlled environment agriculture through the use of IoT sensor technology and automation, while reducing costs for the producers.
Catherine Pearson added:
“We plan to extend the delivery and benefits of Tech Tyfu Twf to more schools in Wales by making digital content available for free, and look forward to continuing our partnership with Agxio to explore more areas of innovation. in education”.