DIY Data Devices: Sensor Building for Environmental Science

Dates: July 10-21, 2017
Cost: $700.00

Have you ever wondered how much temperature varies around Fairbanks? How much dust there is in the air? Which parts of your house are noisiest? How much pressure you put on your feet when walking or running? In this module, you will be constructing environmental sensors and data collection devices to answer questions like these about the natural or urban environment or even your own body. You will develop your own question and hypothesis, collect data with the sensors you build, and then interpret your results. We will provide you with an Arduino microcontroller platform and a selection of sensors that measure temperature, humidity, light, soil moisture, methane gas, sound, or motion. An interest in programming and electronics will serve you well, but you do not need previous programming experience. In the first week we will work through techniques for measuring and recording data and deploy our sensors. The second week will focus on interpreting, analyzing, and visualizing the data you collect. You will evaluate your original hypothesis in light of your results and give a presentation about your experiment. 
Measuring and analyzing environmental variables are key parts of most scientific field work in biology, forestry, and other fields. We will tour environmental data collection sites (all those dishes!) on the UAF campus to understand how they work, what they measure, and why. The Maker movement has made programming and electronics accessible and has enabled people without previous experience (including high school students) to develop and build their own intelligent hardware. You don’t need an engineering degree and a giant satellite dish on your house to answer fascinating questions about your environment - join us to find out how!

Apply hereLink only works during application period, February 1 through April 15


Meet the Instructors

Kina Smith, MPS, Electrical Engineer at UAF International Arctic Research Center and Institute of Northern Engineering

I specialize in the creative application of electronics and code. I am currently developing a system to measure fluctuations in tree diameter, sap flow, and water content in birch trees at UAF. I got my master’s from the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU in 2015 where I built a web connected monitoring system for urban composting operations. I’ve taught at a 3 week technology camp to introduce digital fabrication, electronics, programming and design to high school students and adults and I’ve led workshops on music, electronics, bicycle repair, and knot tying. I love to build things, from scientific equipment, to musical instruments, to toothpaste couplers. One of my latest personal projects includes building an automated system to monitor and distribute heat from the wood stove in my drafty 3-story cabin to improve energy efficiency and heat transfer!

Molly McDermott, MS Candidate, UAF Department of Biology and Wildlife

I am an ecologist fascinated by how plants and animals work together, and how birds survive harsh environments in Alaska. I have spent 4 years studying how the growth of shrubs affects arctic insects and songbirds, and I’m currently working to understand what baby birds eat and why. I have also studied beak deformities in chickadees, observed moose foraging behavior, and developed maps of Alaska showing the frequency of bear-human interactions. I have led hands-on science activities for K-12 students at science fairs and in Fairbanks middle schools that include making batteries, exploring the chemistry of hot peppers, and learning about insect anatomy. In my free time, I love to play cello and ride my fat bike. I’m excited to explore the interface of biology and technology with your student!


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