Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2019


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Hohyun Lee

Second Advisor

Jessica Kuczenski


The purpose of this report is to provide the details of the Seedling Sanctuary, a mechanical engineering senior design project. The project in question is an automated cold frame designed specifically for Gardner Academy, a local elementary school in San Jose. A cold frame is a miniature greenhouse that opens like a chest and is made from clear plastic. Automated ventilation and watering systems create a microclimate within this greenhouse structure to create the ideal growing conditions for seeds. The main purposes of the cold frame are to lengthen the growing season, be maintenance free, and enhance garden education. From testing, the project goals were verified to have been achieved through several performance metrics. First, the system’s ability to lengthen the growing season is dependent on germinating seedlings that can be planted earlier in the season. The automated system maintained the seedlings at the proper soil moisture levels to grow. The system also implemented passive temperature control systems to maintain the plants in ideal conditions. With the ventilation and thermal mass, the system is able to be cooler at the hottest times of day and warmer at night than unprotected plants. The system has also successfully automated the care of the seedlings, achieving our goal of being maintenance free. Finally, the enhancement of garden education was incorporated through community engagement with the design and building of the cold frame, as well as the Bluetooth application which will be used in the school curriculum.