PA has launched its fifth annual Raspberry Pi challenge to inspire the innovators of the future. This year PA is asking pupils from schools and colleges to invent under the theme of ‘Innovation for All’, using a Raspberry Pi.
The aim of this year’s competition is to produce innovations that will improve the lives of people who have conditions that limit their ability to do the tasks that some people take for granted. Inventions could range from technology that helps athletes win a medal in the 2018 Winter Paralympics, aids visual impairment, or inventions which use music therapy to target mental health.
This year, school teams will be offered assistance via a forum on the Raspberry Pi Foundation website where a team of experts will be on hand to answer students’ questions.
The competition is open to the following categories:
•PA’s primary school award: academic years 4-6
•PA’s secondary school award: academic years 7-11
•PA’s sixth form and college award: academic years 12-13
The winning team in each category will receive £1,000 prize money.
Some winners from previous years have used their prize money to invest in new innovations and gone on to achieve commercial success. Winning entry, Truro and Penwith College, for example, used their prize money to develop a project, IndePIdance, aimed at medical rehabilitation. IndePIdance aims to develop a muscle monitoring system combined with a robotic exoskeleton controlled by a Raspberry Pi. This enables users to move freely and can potentially allow the previously immobile to become mobile. The team’s winning competition entry was an eye-tracking system to control a computer, also aimed at helping people with mobility issues.
Anita Chandraker, who leads the digital service team at PA Consulting Group and sponsor for the competition, says: “We believe this initiative will drive great innovations, from helping people with physical impairments to operate everyday digital devices, to inventing wearable technology to enable better learning. Our Raspberry Pi competition is a core part of our ongoing work to make the difference for young people. The competition gives teams of students as young as eight the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of computer programming and engineering – valuable skills which have been declining in the UK in recent years.”
Anita goes on to say: “The quality of inventions from young people over the past four years has impressed all those involved. More and more schools are taking a significant interest in coding following its introduction on the school curriculum, so it is even more important now for young people to understand the basics of programming and the power technology can have in transforming lives.”
Some of the winning innovations from previous years include a robot to help with the household recycling, an automatic pill dispenser, a forest fire detector and a device to help less-mobile people answer their front door – invented by a group of primary school children.
PA first launched the competition in 2012 in response to a fall in programming skills and as a mechanism to tackle the growing talent gap in programming and coding. The Raspberry Pi was selected as it is a low-cost computer, launched with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science in schools and stimulating interest in the IT industry.