A team of seven Year 5 pupils at St Mary’s CofE Primary school in Horsham have made the finals of the PA Consulting Raspberry Pi National Competition, for the sixth year in a row. The Raspberry Pi computer is a small credit card sized computer, born out of the UK, that has sold millions across the world. Each year, PA Consulting set a theme for the competition and teams have a small £100 budget to produce something with the small computer to fit this brief.
The theme provided this year was Travel and Transport. The St. Mary’s team developed an idea (using the Pi) that aims to encourage parents (living some distance away) to drop off their children at a number of specified drop off points away from their school, before the children then walked into school. It is worth noting that a high percentage of serious child road accidents happen within 200 metres of a school gate, so any initiative to have less cars causing congestion around school gates should be encouraged.
Children use a little NFC tag to scan in at the drop off point to a portable device (a Pi Zero) and then again at school on a human sized tree (in the shape of a Minecraft tree) housing a second full sized Raspberry Pi. These check-ins are then validated to ensure the child has scanned in at both locations, a point is added to their year and school and as a reward: resulting in a patch of land being automatically built in a Minecraft World running on the Raspberry Pi inside the tree. The more pupils walk in, the bigger and more varied the world becomes in front of their very eyes. Schools participating can view how they compare to other schools on a dashboard the team have built using PowerBi against the data held on AWS (Amazon’s cloud).
The pupils, who take their project to the finals in London on 30 April, have worked with Python, Electronics, the Cloud (AWS), Databases and SQL, product design, presentation skills, charts, Minecraft coding, team exercises, brainstorming exercises, soldering, carpentry and have seen the acorn of their ideas turn into a final product ready for them to market in front of the judges.
This year’s competition is supported by Rolls Royce, Highways England and Transport for London.