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Zane Middle School starter box mobile greenhouse

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The Starter Box Mobile Greenhouse CAD drawing by Julie Hernandez

Abstract[edit]

The Starter Box is a creative design of a mobile greenhouse. The design team, the Four Tall Redwoods, have designed and built the greenhouse for their client, Zane Middle School. The Four Tall Redwoods team consists of members Carlos Cruz III, Julie Hernandez, Elizabeth Lujan, and John Jensen. The Biology teacher at Zane Middle School, Betsy Elkinton, requested The Four Tall Redwoods build an easy to transport and use greenhouse for her 7th graders spring experiments. The Starter Box enables the plant experiments to grow in desirable conditions. The plant experiments housed in The Starter Box are Red Solo cups with soil and seeds placed inside each one.

Background[edit]

The Four Tall Redwoods team was brought together through Humboldt State University’s Engineering 215: Introduction to Engineering Design at Humboldt State University, instructed by Camille Penny. Zane Middle School requested that one design team from the class construct a mobile greenhouse in an effort to assist their Biology lessons. The Starting Box will enhance the biology student’s learning experience in how the plant life cycle works.

Problem statement and Criteria[edit]

The objective of the project is to design and construct a Mobile Greenhouse to help educate 7th grade students on the plant life cycle as well as help them gain an understanding of how a greenhouse works to provide the necessary components, such as sunlight, to a plant for growth.

The top four criteria for The Starter Box mobile greenhouse included safety, durability, portability, and cost. Safety was the most important criteria on the list. Any safety concerns brought up were quickly taken into consideration and improved upon. The materials utilized in the construction of The Starter Box had to be safe and durable in order to withstand being handled by Middle School Students. Also, considering that students of the ages 12-13 are usually not capable of moving heavy objects, the cart had to be of an appropriate weight to be easily moved around, and be stable enough to withstand tipping. Cost was also a criteria, however, it ranked low due to team willingness to go over budget. The Criteria and Constraints table is shown below.

Criteria Constraint Weight
Safety Must be safe for student use 10
Portability Capable of transporting experiments

Easy maneuverability about classroom

Practical for students to access experiments

9
Durability Durable enough to withstand frequent handling by students 6
Cost Materials should be obtained either free or purchased at low cost. 6

Description of Final Project[edit]

The Starter Box is a simple design for a mobile greenhouse. The greenhouse is designed to house 150 Red Solo cup plant experiments. Each experiment will take up an estimated 66.8 cubic inches plus the height that the plant will grow. Keeping in mind that the greenhouse should be functional within a classroom, the team decided to make The Starter Box approximately 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 5 feet tall. These dimensions make the greenhouse small enough to fit in the client's classroom but big enough to comfortably house all of the students experiments. The Starter Box is made up of a wooden framework for ultimate stability and durability. The framework will be attached to four wheels on each corner of the box to create mobility. The corrugated plastic roof and reinforced woven polyurethane greenhouse plastic walls allow sunlight to seep through and reach plant experiments, while trapping heat within the structure to create a preferable climate. Within the greenhouse are racks that will hold two layers of experiments. Each rack will hold approximately 75 experiments. The racks will be made out of wood and will be a flat smooth surface make the greenhouse adaptable for a variety of experiment sizes and materials. Included in the design is easy accessibility for students to handle their projects via racks that are able to slide out of the framework. Lastly, a storage shelf was added below the experiment shelves.

Project gallery
A mobile greenhouse built for Zane Middle School's biology class.  
A side view of our finished greenhouse.  
A front view of our completed greenhouse.  

The greenhouse will be housed in Betsy Elkinton’s classroom and wheeled into the sun when in operation. The experiments themselves can be placed on shelving within the greenhouse. The shelving is spacious allowing for the students experiments to grow up to a foot high without being disturbed by the roof or shelf above it. The design provides has plenty of room for each individual experiment. Once the experiments are settled, the greenhouse is ready to be placed outside for as long as the instructor desires. The Starter Box has relatively low maintenance due to it’s durability and simplicity. However, maintenance for the greenhouse, if desired to be done is cleaning.

Costs[edit]

The materials used to construct The Starter Box were donated to the Four Tall Redwoods Team or purchased at either ACE Hardware or Thomas Home Center. Using reclaimed lumber to build the frame of the greenhouse and donated greenhouse plastic, a total of $205.00 were saved. The items purchased for the final project included paint, paint brushes, wheels, lumber, plywood and a few pack of screws. Below, a cost table is listed.

Quantity Material Source Cost ($) Total ($)
2 Paint ACE Hardware 20.00 40.00
1 Lumber Thomas Home Center 5.00 5.00
1 Lumber Thomas Home Center 23.00 23.00
2 Reclaimed Lumber Location 75.00 Donated
1 Plastic Paneling Location 30.00 Donated
1 Woven Polyurethane Plastic Location 100.00 Donated
2 Paint Brushes ACE Hardware 17.00 34.00
4 Wheels ACE Hardware 6.00 24.00
1 Duct Tape ACE Hardware 10.00 10.00
2 Handles ACE Hardware 7.00 14.00
2 Pack of Magnets ACE Hardware 7.00 14.00
1 Pack of Metal Washers ACE Hardware 1.00 1.00
1 Pack of Screws Thomas Home Center 6.00 6.00
1 Pack of Screws Thomas Home Center 7.00 7.00
1 Pack of Screws ACE Hardware 10.00 10.00
Total Cost $188.00

Testing Results[edit]

The result of building the final design will be a functioning mobile greenhouse. The structure is sturdy and able to withstand use for many years to come. Each year the greenhouse will be able to house all of the experiments for all of Betsy Elkington’s biology students. Students will be able to watch their plant grow healthy and learn about the germination process.

How to build the Box[edit]

A step by step process describing how to construct the Starter Box Mobile Greenhouse is shown below.

Constructing the Mobile Greenhouse
ImageStep
Determining design dimensions. Step 1 : Calculate the desired dimensions of your greenhouse (length, width, and height). Keep in mind the size of the wheels for your mobile greenhouse, and how the overall height will be affected.
Member sanding sharp edges away Step 2 : Sand edges of the posts to make the structure more safe for the client.
"Aquamarine" paint color Step 2.5 : Optional Step: Clean and paint the wood
Member attaching framework Step 3 : Assemble Framework
Member adding the shelves. Step 4 : Assemble Shelving
Member adding the wheels. Step 5: Add Wheels
Member attaching the roof Step 6 : Add Corrugated Plastic Roof
Attaching reinforced woven polyurethane greenhouse plastic. Step 7 : Add Greenhouse Plastic Walls
Member attaching handle Step 8 : Add Handle

Discussion and next steps[edit]

After construction is complete, the mobile greenhouse will be delivered. The Starting Box will be housed in Betsy Elkinton’s classroom and wheeled into the sun when in operation. The experiments themselves can be placed on shelving within the greenhouse. The shelving is spacious allowing for the students experiments to grow up to a foot high without being disturbed by the roof or shelf above it, giving each experiment plenty of room to grow. Once the experiments are securely placed on the shelves, the greenhouse is ready to be placed outside for as long as the instructor desires. The only maintenance required is cleaning the greenhouse, which is on a desired basis.

Team Members[edit]

Carlos Cruz III

Julie Hernandez

John Jensen

Elizabeth Lujan