Image: DTU

Students will soon be able to code and grow greens in class

Thursday 22 Nov 18


Hanne Vibeke Seidler Jacobsen
Senior Academic Officer
National Food Institute
+45 93 51 07 95


Rikke Andersen
Senior Researcher
National Food Institute
+45 40 21 53 77

Danish primary school students are allowed to play with their food in a new project, which lets them grow their own greens in biology class using a food computer.

Figures from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, show that 10-17-year-olds eat just a quarter of the recommended 600 grams of fruit and vegetables a day. As such, they miss out on valuable nutrients, which may affect their health.

A new project, Hack your greens, aims to make young Danes more interested in eating vegetables by letting them design and grown their own greens in a purpose-built computer. The National Food Institute heads the project, which has received financial support from Nordea-fonden.

”We know that teenagers have a low intake of fruit and vegetables. Hack your greens is a novel way of combining lessons on vegetables’ journey from farm to fork with a fun, new technology. We expect to be able to be part of the development of healthy eating habits among this age group by letting the kids grow their own greens in the classroom, where they can explore and play with the growing process,” Senior Researcher and Project Lead Rikke Andersen from the National Food Institute explains.

Further development of an American computer

The so-called food computer is inspired by a prototype developed by researchers at the technical university MIT in the USA. Engineer students at the Technical University of Denmark will further develop the prototype so it is ready for use in Danish primary schools.

The food computer will be connected to a web-based platform, which the students can use to code or ’hack’ and thereby design plants by influencing their growth conditions. The aim of this process is to increase the students’ desire to taste different vegetables. 

For use in year 7 to 9 biology classes

The two-year Hack your greens project is a cooperation with University College Copenhagen, Center for Playware at DTU Electro and DTU Skylab. During the two years, the National Food Institute will test the new educational technology in schools in two Danish municipalities (Rødovre and Gladsaxe).

"Primary school is an ideal place to teach future generations about food and health —also in subjects other than home economics. Hack your greens puts food on the class schedule in a novel way and provides an opportunity for students to explore and play with the latest technology,” Rikke Andersen says.

Read more 

Watch a short YouTube video about the project.

Læs også projektbeskrivelsen på DTU’s website.


  • Nordea-fonden has provided the Hack your greens project with 5 million DKK in financial support 
  • The National Food Institute will develop and test the teaching material and the educational technology
  • Engineer students at DTU Skylab will develop two food computers for the test
  • University College Copenhagen will develop the web platform, which the students will use to design and code or ’hack’ their greens
  • Center for Playware at DTU Electro will be in charge of linking the hardware and the software