942 Developing a Community of Backyard Community Gardens as a Laboratory for Cultivating Informal STEM Learning

Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Stephen R. Shaffer, Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ

An Earth System Model (EaSM) based upon the Weather Research and Forecasting community model has been developed to account for coupled urban-vegetation-atmosphere interactions within heterogeneous urban areas. Numerical investigation of urban heat island mitigation strategies for hypothetical scenarios of landscape conversion, namely from vacant or barren landscape to agriculture as urban farms or community gardens have been conducted at mesoscale resolving scales. Yet there is still room for parameterization evaluation and further development with detailed observations beyond the typical model evaluation provided with synoptic weather stations. The casual hobbyist gardener will often pay attention to temperature, precipitation, and perhaps insolation, during the growing season. Experienced practitioners also remark about microclimate variation within their growing areas, cultivar selection and timing, and many other details of the ecosystem they geoengineer to cultivate a successful crop. Yet, parameterization of plant biophysical models are typically performed for homogeneous stands of single cultivars. Parameterization appropriate for heterogeneous crops typical of backyard gardens is an open question. To fulfill this need for EaSM development and evaluation, a network of locations within Phoenix and other cities, for existing locations and those interested in becoming community gardens (i.e. baseline pre-conversion) are being established, and citizen science and STEM learning opportunities within the context of workshops and projects are being developed, tested, and STEM learning outcomes evaluated. This presentation will discuss progress on this project for establishing one particular backyard laboratory and aims to start a dialog of collaboration for ongoing research.
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