Tag Archive: Technology

Technology at Camp = Problem Solvers

HughesNet and Florida 4-H have teamed up to help youth learn how to use science and technology to solve problems!

Most people think of camp as a break from the fast-paced technological world, but that’s not always the case.  With a $ 10,000 grant from HughesNet, Florida 4-H is introducing technology in a meaningful way across our state this summer!  As a result of the sponsorship, 340 youth will learn about the engineering design process, and how to use technology and engineering to solve real world issues such as energy, water and conservation.

 “We are grateful for the partnership with a technology leader like HughesNet to get more kids interested in how STEM affects our lives and offers great career paths,” said Michael Gutter, UF/IFAS associate dean for Extension and state program leader for 4-H youth development, families and communities. “Camp is a fun way to learn about STEM and a great way for youth to spend part of their summer.”

During one camp, youth learned how civil engineers design safe bridges to transport people, food and medical supplies. STEM in action!

STEM at Camp is part of a national effort by HughesNet and National 4-H Council to spark youth interest in STEM topics.  Florida was one of four states selected to receive a Summer Camp STEM grant. The other states include Illinois, Maine and Virginia. This is the third consecutive year that HughesNet has supported STEM at Camp programs and the first year that Florida has been a recipient of this funding.

Next week, Florida Panhandle youth have two camps to choose from: Bots by the Bay at 4-H Camp Timpoochee and Wildlife Camp in Monticello, Florida.  During Bots by the Bay camp, youth will learn how to program 3-dimensional printers to print, build and test robots and cars.  During Wildlife Camp, youth will learn how technology is used to protect natural resources and grow our agricultural industry.  Our goal is to spark an interest in using technology to solve real world problems that affect our food safety and supply, as well as our overall quality of life.

National 4-H Council and HughesNet are dedicated to sparking youth interest in STEM topics through hands-on, community-based STEM learning. In addition to STEM at Camp, HughesNet works with National 4-H Council to support STEM programs such as the 4-H Youth In Action STEM Pillar award, National Engineering Week and National Youth Science Day – the world’s largest youth-led STEM challenge.  This year’s experiment, Incredible Wearables, helps youth explore the world of wearable technology as the design, built and test a fitness monitor.  If you have a passion for technology, or simply like to help kids learn, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.  For more information about 4-H, visit our website or contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office.


Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/07/07/technology-at-camp-problem-solvers/

Time Saving Technology- There’s an App for That!

Who doesn’t want a little more time? I am always looking for ways to help me get more done in the time I have. Over the years, I have found some great applications that I would like to share with busy 4-H parents and volunteers:

  • ANYLIST—this is a great application allowing you to create lists. I have a list I have named, “My Grocery List.” The neat thing about it is when I say to Suri, “add milk to my grocery list,” she does it! It makes it easy to compile a grocery list and I don’t even have to find a piece of paper.
  • MY FITNESSPAL—this application allows you to log everything you eat and helps you stay accountable. It will also talk to your exercise tracker to offset the amount of calories you can eat versus the calories your burn each day. The BODY TRACKER application can keep track of body measurements and how much muscle you gain and how much fat you lose.
  • COUNTDOWN—this application allows you to enter upcoming events from your calendar and keep track of how many weeks, days, hours, minutes and even seconds to deadlines! This allows you to prioritize based on what is due next, whether it be birthday shopping, a 4-H club meeting, or homework assignments.

It can be daunting for parents to keep track of work, family, church, sports, and school calendars. Sharing calendars can help see where everyone is at a glance. There are many applications that are free to help you get organized and save time- these are just a few great examples. Remember, not every application is for everyone. If I find that an application just doesn’t work for me, then I erase it. We all have different opinions on which applications will work best. For instance, my husband likes Weather Channel but I prefer AccuWeather. We both get the weather, just through different applications. Check out some of these applications to save time and stay organized this 4-H year!


Author: Prudence Caskey – prudencecaskey@ufl.edu

Prudence Caskey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/09/05/time-saving-technology-theres-an-app-for-that/

UF/IFAS Evaluating Soil Mapping Technology for Variable Rate Applications

Fig. 1. MSP3 in operation with water jets engaged to clean the pH sensor (Mackowiak).

Fig. 1. Veris rig in operation with water jets engaged to clean the pH sensor Photo Credit:  Cheryl Mackowiak.

The next generation of agriculture Best Management Practices (BMPs) will likely include new soil mapping technologies. Resulting maps are increasingly being used to guide variable applications of irrigation, fertilizer, herbicides, and pesticides in the field. On-the-go soil sensors have spatial dependence ranges less than the distances used by USDA soil surveys, or even most grid sampling techniques. It stands to reason that shorter sampling distances may enhance the effectiveness of variable rate technologies, thereby improving production efficiencies.

UF/IFAS, North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) recently acquired a Veris MSP3 (Veris Technologies Inc., Salina, KS) that uses dual wavelength (visible and near infrared) optical sensors for organic matter, pH sensors for soil pH, and pairs of coulter electrodes for direct electrical conductivity readings at two depths:  0 to 12 inches and 0 to 36 inches (Fig. 1). The onboard GPS unit provides the mapping coordinates for each sampling point (from hundreds to thousands per field), as the implement is pulled behind with a tractor across the field at speeds up to 6 mph. For this piece of equipment, the data can be post-processed and viewed online through the company site or downloaded in different formats for use with variable rate controllers.

Science comes into play with interpreting the data (mapping and calibrations), and determining how the results translate into improving farming input efficiencies. The majority of Florida surface soils are comprised of 85% or more sand, where water and nutrient leaching potential is great. Nitrogen from fertilization can quickly move into the subsoil, and often into shallow ground water. Characterizing the effect of long-term agricultural practices on soil composition, water and fertilizer leaching is therefore difficult, because the soil retention time is rapid. Among our goals is to assess the benefit of mapping technologies for these soils, and determining if on-the-go sensor technologies are viable tools for protecting water resources.

Fig 2. Example of real-time soil electrical conductivity (EC) mapping (left) and the post-process data converted into a zone map ready for variable rate applications (right), based on EC, pH and organic matter mapping.  Photo credit:  Cheryl Mackowiak

Fig 2. Example of real-time soil electrical conductivity (EC) mapping (left) and the post-process data converted into a zone map ready for variable rate applications (right), based on EC, pH and organic matter mapping. Photo credit: Cheryl Mackowiak

Researchers at the NFREC will be using soil mapping, along with soil coring, in several different Florida agricultural systems, including row cropping (conventional conservation tillage vs sod-based crop rotations), dairy silage cropping, and other forage-based agricultural systems. Currently, there are some fertilizer retailers and other groups that provide soil mapping services to producers. Mapping may seem expensive initially, but the resulting maps should save the producer money on input costs, wherever variable rate applicators are being used. Lime savings is often cited as an immediate cost savings for farmers. As these technologies mature and prices fall, even more cost savings should be realized by producers. We will provide updates on what we learn from time to time, so stay tuned!



Author: Cheryl Mackowiak – echo13@ufl.edu


Cheryl Mackowiak

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/30/ufifas-evaluating-soil-mapping-technology-for-variable-rate-applications/