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May 27, 2016

Raspberry Pi for High School Innovators

High schools from across the country converged on Belize City today where students participated in a competition geared towards young innovators.  The goal is to use a miniature computer platform to perform various IT functions.  The challenge was a showcase in ingenuity and innovation and in the end only one school would capture the coveted first prize.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Public Utilities Commission has been assiduous in promoting Raspberry Pi, a miniature computer platform created by professors at Cambridge University in 2008.  The computers were initially distributed to forty-seven secondary schools with active information technology programs.  Today those schools participated in a competition during which their achievements using Raspberry Pi were on full display.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“We are ecstatic in the ministry about this initiative by the PUC and the ministry because as I mentioned in my remarks just now, some years ago, the Raspberry Pi was introduced and in fact what we are seeing now is a continuation of what was taught back then. You know, quite often we have these challenges and the projects are left where they are, but what was taught two years ago and continued to have been taught in our schools, is today becoming a reality. And it is becoming a reality in a way that we will see thing continue to give and so for that reason we are very, very happy. As I’ve said, I think that the way forward in this country, in terms of our economy has got to be true service. and while tourism is the buzzword in that regard, I think, Belizeans being able to be innovative and to create services especially as it relates to technology and being able to market this at home and even abroad is the way forward. And so we embrace this initiative wholeheartedly.”

 

Reporter

“Have you see some of the inventions or some of the creations from different schools and different students and are you impressed with what they’ve done with the Raspberry Pi?”

 

Patrick Faber

“Well I just happened to walk around this morning, but I did see a list of all the projects that are coming up. We see stoplights, we see temperature monitoring devices, we see automated systems being built for agriculture. And these are things that we know are necessary in our Belizean society and are necessary in fact over the world and these are things that people use on a daily basis. And so it must be that we applaud this because it points that our young people especially—I am happy that this is being done with our young people—are moving in a path that they can be relevant in the Belizean society, but also in the wider world.”

 

Reporter

“Sir I notice that the PUC…well at least the MC said that the project cost them, the budget was big. I mention that to ask, will there be support for it to continue since the idea is to change the culture to focus young people in invention and innovation?”

 

Patrick Faber

“You are right, it did cost a pretty penny to the PUC and in fact, in some ways, to the Government of Belize because we had to forego some revenues from the importations of the various different pieces/devices that came in. We intend to continue to support this kind of development in the schools. Much of this that is being done now is a learned skill and so we believe that if we continue to train our young people, the money will follow from the private sector and the investors to assist our young people in fleshing out their skills and their talent. But as far as the government is concern, I believe we can speak as well for the PUC, this kind of innovative investment in innovation is going to continue.”

 

Carla Heart, who has been working with the PUC on the Young Innovators Program, elaborates on how the competition was organized.

 

Carla Heart

Carla Heart, Young Innovators Program

“We had thirty-three schools registered; unfortunately a few of them dropped out, but we have over twenty-five here represented today.”

 

Reporter

“What kind of innovations are you seeing here?”

 

Carla Heart

“Well we have quite a variety. We have everything from multimedia displays, voice over internet protocol, displays, we have temperature control units; there’s quite a bit of the robotic cars and the robots. There is also the traffic lights, we have school automation system, home automation systems. There is a display by the Corozal Community College that is quite interesting; it’s a buzzer system for schools. I think they have three displays. Some of the schools have been displaying more than one. So it’s quite varied.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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