Raspberry Pi Competition Award winners

We take a look at some of the ingenious designs that were showcased at PA Consulting's Raspberry Pi event.

While most of the UK was busy trying to decipher what the Chancellor's latest Budget meant for them on 20 March, down in Cambridge there was something much more exciting going on.

PA Consulting hosted the final of its Raspberry Pi Competition and IT Pro was there first hand to see how the little computer can be used in the real-world.

The aim of the competition was to encourage schoolchildren to build a project using the Raspberry Pi that would "help make the world a better place".

Teams had a budget of approximately 50 (not including the cost of the Pi). There were hundreds of entries, which were whittled down to the final 14 projects. The judges were asked to choose a winner in four categories with prizes including a cheque for 1,000 and a tailor-made Raspberry Pi case.

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Category One Year 4-6 (Ages 8-11)

Category Two Year 7 -11 (Ages 12 -16)

Category Three Year 12 13 (Age 16-18)

Open Category Independent entries

All the projects showcased were excellent, with the children showing commitment, ingenuity, passion and teamwork. All the ideas had commercial potential too, with the winners in-particular going a long way towards solving real-world problems using the humble Pi. 

Category One winner:

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The best presentation of the day was carried out by the youngest children from The Richard Pate School. Their project was designed to help elderly and disabled people answer their door safely, which can be a burdensome task.

The keypad is also connected to a monitor which can display messages to the person outside the front door. The programming for this was done using the "Scratch" tool.

Here are the kids in action explaining how their system works:

What next?

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With the limit of 50 the children weren't able to make their device as comprehensive as they would have liked. They may look into upgrading the system so that it includes features such as an intercom, and a webcam. The full documentation can be found at The Richard Pate School website.  

Category Two winner:

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One of the biggest teams was from Dalriada School and they created a project which has the potential to helps millions of people, especially those with memory problems.

They used to Pi to power an automatic pill dispenser that can be managed remotely by their GP.

What next?

This has the potential to commercialised and used by medical facilities. There would likely be a long road ahead due to the compliance procedures, but there is a real possibility that this could be implemented in the UK as it is a low-cost tool which could benefit countless people. In the meantime - more details about the pill dispenser can be found here - https://github.com/Dalriada-Robotics/Pill-Dispenser.

Category Three winner:

There were three projects fighting it out in this category, which was the most closely contested of the lot. Unfortunately there could be only one winner and it was the dynamic duo Alyssa and Tom from Westminister School, who impressed the judges the most.

The team wants people around the country to build their own sensors so there can be a network monitoring the air quality around the country and even the globe. Instructions can be found on here - https://github.com/tomhartley/Meteoros. The team is looking into the possibility of making ready-made kits at cost-price to help those to get involved.

Open Category winner:

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James Singleton won the open category award with a simple yet effective project that can help anyone monitor energy usage in their house.

 What next?

There are no plans to commercialise this project at the moment. The instructions for this kit are available here - http://unop.co.uk/dev/raspberry-pi-electricity-monitor/ - so users can get up and running and see how energy efficient they really are.

Overall, the event showcased just how bright and talented UK school children are and this bodes well for the UK technology sector going forward. Introducing something as simple as the Raspberry Pi into the curriculum would not only help get children interested in technology, but would teach them the vital skills they would need in the real world, which is what employers look for.

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