PA Consulting challenge rewards young inventors’ Raspberry Pi ideas

An interactive recycling bin, streetlights that turn off when they’re not needed and a portable charger to harvest solar and wind energy all collected prizes in a competition that saw young people coming up with ingenious ways of using a Raspberry Pi computer.

Finalists in three age categories, selected from over a hundred entries from all over the UK, visited the IET’s Savoy Place building in London for judging of PA Consulting Group’s Raspberry Pi coding contest. Now in its sixth year, the annual competition aims to inspire the innovators of the future by challenging them to use the credit-card-sized device to address a specific issue.

With a theme of sustainability, three prizes, each worth £1,000, were at stake in categories for academic years 4-6, 7-11 and 12-13.

‘Emaginate’, the Y4-Y6 winning team from Ysgol Deganwy school

Top place for years 4-6, equivalent to the upper three years of primary school, went to Ysgol Deganwy from Conwy, who created ‘Recycle Michael’, an interactive rubbish bin that uses a barcode scanner to scan waste packaging and display useful information about which compartment it should be put into. Judges said they were impressed by the clarity of the idea, which as well as encouraging recycling aims to develop young people’s understanding by displaying interesting facts displayed when an item is scanned.

Kenilworth School’s ‘Life of Pi’ team with their street light controller

The secondary school category for academic years 7-11 was won by a team from Kenilworth School who created a solution to energy waste in the shape of a system that identifies when no-one is nearby and switches off unnecessary streetlights. An infra-red mirror on the opposite side of the road to the transmitter reflects a beam back to the receiver; when the beam is broken, all the streetlights nearby are turned on. The prototype demonstrated how multiple pointers and receivers could be controlled by a single Raspberry Pi.

The College of Richard Collyer’s ‘September’ team – Y12-Y13 winners

The College of Richard Collyer took the prize for secondary school and college: academic years 12-13 with a simple, portable and lightweight charger that makes use of wind and solar power to charge four rechargeable AA batteries. Their small-scale model showed how the system could potentially be developed on a much larger scale. The judges said they were impressed by the team’s imagination, the way they’d used recycled materials, and their ability to present the technical details of their idea.

Anita Chandraker, who leads PA’s innovation services team, described the quality of ideas submitted for this year’s challenge as “astounding”, adding that the company believes some of them could be applied in the real world.

“As a firm, we are passionate about technology and our aim for the competition is to highlight the importance of technology and coding skills, and their role in supporting our future economy,” said Chandraker. “It’s such an inspiring competition and we are delighted to see young children getting involved in coding with such passion and enthusiasm.”

More details of the competition and projects can be found on the PA Consulting website.

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