Robotics teacher Brian Patton hopes to enrich the robotics program with a new curriculum focused on farming. In future semesters, Brian’s potential new curriculum will center on aquaponics, systems that couple aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water).
This new curriculum based in plant biology and automated farming could open the possibility for more flexibility and options for students, says Brian. This way, students can personalize their projects and coursework to best suit their interests. He will work closely with biology teacher Pascal Lanciano to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum that combines standard robotics and biology principles into a unique program of study.
To jumpstart this focus in agriculture and botany, Brian hopes to get a FarmBot, an open-source farming machine. This machine is accompanied by a curriculum based on its software, which grants students the ability to design their own modifications and improvements to the device. Ultimately, He plans that students could work towards building one of their own.
Farming is a topic “so fundamental but so far removed from the daily subconscious,” Brian shares. “We have to do better on every front.”
Focusing on farming and local sourcing would help students learn the importance of sustainable food production. Following George School’s commitment to faithful stewardship of the earth, students could actively work to reduce their carbon footprint by developing new methods of farming that replace “trucking” and the outsourcing of groceries, two major players in greenhouse gas emissions.
These lessons will teach students how to sustain themselves and support their surrounding community so they can thrive locally and globally, another core value of George School.
In terms of career paths, Brian believes thinking sustainably can also be a strong business opportunity for young entrepreneurs. As society looks for smaller farming alternatives to decrease global CO2 consumption, students could apply the skills learned in the classroom to create real-world change.
This would not be the first time George School students have incorporated elements of biological sciences into the robotics classroom. In his independent study project, Andrew Rogers ’23 seamlessly crossed both academic disciplines with a fully-functioning terrarium. His work is a prime example of George School’s core value of transformative teaching and learning that will be continued with Brian’s future programming.
Brian will begin piloting his new three-term system in future semesters. He plans to have the first term available as a summer session so students can get a head start on the course if they choose to.
This is all possible with George School’s switch to the Signature Academic Program with a modular 7-Term calendar beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. With this new schedule, Brian says, the curriculum can easily cross various academic subjects and allot greater time to access other aspects of George School’s expansive campus like the energy center.