Estero high school students build robot that farms vegetables

Students at Estero High School just finished a two-year project building two farm robots that will be able to grow vegetables from seeds. But students say this is more than just a cool science experiment.

“Unlike humans where humans get tired and sweat out, Farmbot runs 24 hours a day,” said Tom Malestein, a student on the project.

Students like Malestein and Max Schad have spent months perfecting what they call the “Farmbot.”

“I’ve spent probably a hundred hours working on this Farmbot,” Schad said.

Through electronics and 3D programming, “Farmbot” is able to sustain a garden on its own.

“The Farmbot is able to pick up a seed, plant it. Once it’s done, it’s able to water it through its life,” Schad said.

The robot is even able to detect unwanted weeds and remove them. The cycle continues until the plants are ready to be harvested.

“Combining agriculture with technology and the environment, I think that’s really beneficial for my future,” Schad said.

Estero High School teacher Steve Fisher says they saw the idea online, but ordered and designed the machine on their own. It’s a project that’s been two school years in the making.

“It’s not to my knowledge something any of the other high schools in the area are doing,” Fisher said.

But it is something agencies like NASA are using. The students say NASA uses technology like this to try to harvest on other planets.

While they plan to keep their project on a smaller scale, the students say they’re proud to see it all working.

“Here’s our finished result and I think you’ll agree with me it turned out pretty well,” Malestein said.

The students started building the “Farmbot” through a grant. And the vegetables they’re growing will be used for the school’s culinary program.

Reporter:Andrea Henderson
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