Schools innovate to create a better world, using a Raspberry Pi
The brightest innovators from UK schools and colleges competed in a virtual judging and awards ceremony for the final of PA Consulting’s annual Raspberry Pi coding competition, which is now in its ninth year. This year, 13 shortlisted teams' entries were judged by an expert panel of industry leaders.
PA Consulting, the global innovation and transformation consultancy that’s bringing ingenuity to life, runs the annual competition to challenge primary, secondary and college students across the UK to invent, design and create products in a sustainable way, using the Raspberry Pi microcomputer.
Entrants to the 2021 competition were tasked to use their ingenuity to create a positive future for everyone as we come out of an unprecedented period of uncertainty. Teams were asked to imagine a world where we can, for example, develop a cleaner more sustainable world; be better prepared for the unexpected; interact safely whether at work or leisure; support the health and wellbeing of everyone or get urgent supplies into the hands of those who need them the most. The winning team in each category received £1,000 prize money.
The winners of the 2021 competition:
Primary school award, academic years 4-6
St Mary’s School CE Primary School (Horsham), who created an intelligent cane, Pi Sight, that communicates with other devices to inform blind, partially sighted or deaf-blind people of nearby hazards. To help manage social distancing, the team also developed Navi-Gate, a door entry management system that uses lights to show when people can and can’t enter a space and communicates with Pi Sight to convey the information.
Secondary school award, academic years 7-9
Priestnall School, who developed a gadget to monitor indoor air pollution and reduce the health risk. The device is integrated with Alexa that livestreams data on different types of pollution to easy-to-use dashboards.
Secondary school award, academic years 10-11
Colchester County High School for Girls, who developed an AI-powered automatic feeder designed to support endangered species by providing food to specific animals. The system also has an emergency override that lets it provide food to any animal in times of need, such as a famine or drought. Google’s Cloud Vision works with the team’s program to check if the motion is from the programmed species and, if it is, food is dispensed.
Sixth form and college award, academic years 12-13
Westminster School and Harris Westminster Sixth Form, who designed a new type of security – a dynamic footprint – that prevents possession theft. The idea comes from gait recognition – the method of identifying someone by the way they walk. The team’s system uses an accelerometer to assess people’s unique walking styles. It would then know whether the owner or an unknown party is holding a possession while walking.
People’s choice award
This year’s new category was voted for by the audience at the awards day, and was won by Steeple Bumpstead School, who created a monitoring system for beehive temperature and humidity. The system sends the data to a website that the team created, and everything runs off imported code from the internet to make the system easier to set up on a commercial scale.
Anita Chandraker, innovation expert at PA Consulting and sponsor for the competition, says: “This year’s event was an astounding success and it certainly didn’t feel like it was just a virtual event. We’re so pleased with the engagement from the school teams in what has been a testing year and delighted to have seen the same level of top-quality ideas from finalists this year as we have done in the past eight.
“Where normally our finalists would present their inventions to the judges at a physical awards day, we judged virtually using the digital submissions from the teams. Despite this, our judges were blown away by the creativity, originality and inventiveness of the teams in developing their ingenious solutions.
“Encouraging the younger generation is so important to us, as is promoting STEM education, so our competition aims to help them develop their interest in innovation and technology using a real-world challenge such as COVID-19. The ingenuity of children is remarkable, so we give it a place to thrive.”
PA first launched the competition in 2012 in response to a fall in programming skills, to help 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.
For more information about the competition and to see a video of all of the finalists in action visit: www.paconsulting.com/events/raspberry-pi-competition-uk