On Saturday, January 27, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center hosted its fourth St. Louis Raspberry Pi Jam bringing together 900 students, educators, makers, scientists and community members of all ages interested in the world of scientific innovation and robotics.

The $35 Raspberry Pi microcomputer is a technology used by educators, scientists and hobbyists to construct low-cost hardware and software engineering tools. This interactive event offered participants a unique opportunity to explore science through robotics, a Pi-powered photo booth, DIY activities, demonstrations, art, 3D printing and other interactive displays.

“We hope that our Jams inspire current and future scientists to embrace using Raspberry Pi and other open-source hardware to interact and discover the natural world,” said Dmitri Nusinow, Ph.D., assistant member at the Danforth Center and co-founder of the Center’s Maker Group.

Will McHargue, a technician in the Zhang laboratory demonstrated the Phenode, an integrated field phenotyping and management platform for crop development and precision agriculture at the Jam. The prototype was developed in the Mockler laboratory and highlighted at the 2016 Ag Innovation Showcase.

“As part of the expansion at the Danforth Center, a Maker Shop was added to the new wing providing space for us to create the PheNode,” said Nadia Shakoor, Ph.D., co-inventor of the Phenode, Danforth Center Research Manager. “With the new infrastructure and talented team of researchers in place, we have been able to prototype this exciting new phenotyping platform and are on our way to commercializing it.”

More than 60 percent of labs in the Center are involved in Maker activities, which includes education and outreach and research projects.

“Awesome, Inspiring, Inventive! Our Girl Scout troop was excited with all the information received. The hands on activities were intriguing. Mike, our tour guide was so knowledgeable and engaging with facts and information. All of the people were friendly and patient. My granddaughters are still talking about it. Thank You for providing such a wonderful opportunity and revealing a bright future for our new leaders of this world.” – Attendee, Winnie Collier

In addition to the Danforth Center’s Maker Group and Education and Outreach team, event participants included Danforth Plant Science Center Scientists, Zagros Robotics, STEMPact, St. Louis Student Robotics Association, St. Louis Raspberry Pi Meetup Group, Inventor Forge Maker Space, Monsanto, the Danforth Center Maker Group, the Danforth Center Education and Outreach Program and Arch Reactor.

The Danforth Center Maker Group is supported by the National Science Foundation and the Danforth Plant Science Center Outreach and Education Center Programs, the Danforth Center Young Friends and Drury Hotels. For more information on the Danforth Center’s Maker Group, visit their website and follow them on Twitter @DDPSCmaker.

View additional pictures here.

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