Today Matt and I continued working on our lab modules for Gateway Academy. I completed Teacher Guides for a fermentation lab as well as a natural selection activity, while Matt is currently working on planting some fast plants, which we're going to use for several activities. After we grabbed some lunch, we picked up some lab supplies from the Bird Sanctuary education rooms, then visited the Robotic Dairy Farm!

The Robotic Dairy Farm is pretty neat. The grazing area for the cows is divided up into many sections, and different sections are opened up on different days to allow for rotation of grazing. Cows are free to wander between opened grazing areas and the barn as they please.

When cows enter the barn, they have a few things they can do... If they need milking, they can walk into one of the two milking stalls. These cows wear collars that read information about the cow's body, including how much milk they have. The collars are detected by computers in the milking stalls. If the cow needs to be milked, it is offered food at the door closes behind it and the milking process begins. If the cow does not need to be milked, it simply passes through.

Observers can see the milking process from a viewing room inside the barn. The robot attaches to the cow's teats using lasers to locate position. When milking has begun, the robotic system is able to collect health and nutrition information regarding the cow and the milk as it is transferring the milk to containers. Once the machine detects that the cow has been satisfactorily milked, the robot releases the cow and Bessie is free to return to the field!

Some of the other interesting things in the barn include a rotating back-scratcher for the cows and waterbeds! Below is a picture of me hanging out on the farm with a not-so-real cow!


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