STEAM Powered Food Security, Columbia University
My research project, "STEAM-Powered Food Security" looked at how new technologies (e.g., 3D printing and virtual reality) could create more effective educational materials for fledgling macadamia farmers, Junior Agriculture Technicians (JAT) and other development agencies in Nepal by providing open sourced tools for best practices in macadamia nursery and grafting management for improved production. The preliminary research work carried out suggested that there is a strong correlation between meaningful engagement with educational materials and technology applications used such as, VR photos of macadamia nurseries and orchards, mobile videos and illustrated step-by-step laminated guides that demonstrated the step-by-step nursery and grafting management steps. Of the 65 farmers that participated in the research project, 60 out of 65 participants found the overall usefulness of the educational training materials to be “Very Helpful” while the other 5 found the materials to be “Helpful” in supporting their understand of new concepts and techniques around growing the nursery and grafting management of macadamia nut in Nepal. The curriculum development and research work was done in collaboration with researcher Dr. Andrea Barrueto, Dr. Juerg Merz, Australian macadamia expert Kim Wilson, Helvetas Nepal, the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) and Teachers College, Columbia University.