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Nov 10, 2017

The Raspberry Pi Jam Takes over the Princess

It was created in 2008 and first brought to Belize seven years later. But the Raspberry Pi computer has become the base of the Public Utilities Commission’s Young Innovators Program. The P.U.C.’s vision is to support the country’s future inventors, scientists and specialists in mathematics, the sciences, technology and engineering. Today students from across the country converged at the Princess Hotel to show off what they have developed using the miniature computer. News Five’s Aaron Humes reports that the results are quite impressive for those of any age.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Even Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, George Washington Carver and Bill Gates had to start somewhere. In the case of the founders of the software development company LXJ Code Belize, guest speakers at today’s second annual Raspberry Pi Jam, it was with the Public Utilities Commission’s Youth Innovators Program. In the span of a few years, they have developed seven software apps, one of which may be about to make them rich.

 

Luis Aguilar

Luis Aguilar, Developer, LXJ Code Belize

“We got to learn a lot about the business side of software development, whereby we got to learn how to market our product and how to make our company get out so that people can know who we are and so that people can know what we do. So what we basically did over there was get business training to help us market our products and get our ideas out to the world, because you can have a perfect idea or a great idea, but if you don’t know how to sell that idea, you won’t make any money out of it. While at the Hackathon, they had Trinidad and Tobago who expressed that they wanted to implement this platform in their country. Right now we made an update to this platform so it doesn’t look like that anymore, and this person from Miami is helping us get the product out.”

 

Hoping to follow in their footsteps are teams from twenty-four different schools across Belize, who this morning turned the Majestic Rooms of the Princess Hotel into a wonderland of technology. The Belize Council for the Visually Impaired may come calling on Joaquin Leal and David Montero of Corozal Community College, who displayed this smart vest they originally created for a classmate.

 

Joaquin Leal

Joaquin Leal, Fourth Form Student, Corozal Community College

“We basically built this for a student in our school who is visually impaired; she is in third form now and we noticed that she usually gets third-party details about her surroundings, so we decided to create a vest for her, for her community, the visually impaired community, so they could be more aware of the surroundings so they don’t have to depend on either a teacher or a student in the compound. It uses the ultrasonic sensor to detect the distance of an object from the sensor to the person. If the object is between one to ten feet, it will activate the vibrators; and also the closer the object gets to the person, the intensity of the vibrators will increase. But if you’re talking to someone – the distance between you and someone or an object is less than one foot, it will stop the vibrators because you don’t want it to be vibrating all the time while you’re talking to someone. Or you can simply manually turn it off like if you’re in a crowd of people and you have someone to help you. And also, we’ve integrated L.E.D. lights – this is for at night when you’re walking – you want people to know that you’re there.”

 

Out West at Mount Carmel High School, students could have probably done without this invention – an electronic attendance system that records information about the whereabouts of students coming onto or leaving campus. But those we spoke to said they actually had a hand in building it.

 

Andre Silva, Third Form Student, Mount Carmel High School“This was developed by our I.T. teacher, Victor Miranda; he programmed it with the coding and he taught us how to assemble it and how it works. What this basically is is an electronic attendance system.” Jason Uk, Fourth Form Student, Mount Carmel High School“So the idea behind it is that every day you have to go to class and say ‘present, are you here’ and this happens every day and it’s time-consuming. But with this you just go and scan it and it says present and what time you arrived and what time you left.” Andre Silva

Aaron Humes

“So you can’t avoid going to school late and that kind of thing?”

 

Jason Uk

“Exactly.”

 

Andre Silva

“[There] is a scanner inside a box, like this, we just scan inside…”

 

Jason Uk

Carlos Dubon, Student, Mount Carmel High School

“Our teachers don’t have the need to take attendance every morning; so they just access the internet, type in the website they have the access, and it shows the record of the students that came in that day.”

 

P.U.C. Chair John Avery says practical applications like these were his organization’s idea at the time of the first trainings for information technology teachers in creating mobile applications.

 

John Avery

John Avery, Chairman, Public Utilities Commission

“In 2015, we had a workshop for the I.T. teachers through the country – Mr. [Dalton] Lewis helped to develop a curriculum – and they took that back to their different schools and encouraged the students to incorporate science and technology in their educational goals and objectives. And then to continue to support the students in developing projects for last year’s Raspberry Pi, and of course again for this year.”

 

And Minister of Education Patrick Faber is looking forward to expanding the program across the education system.

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“The use of the Raspberry Pi is something that I think can take us very far, maybe not only because of the use of the device itself, but the fact that the children and the young people are engaged in the use of technology, and that in itself can blossom into greater things down the road, that can see them be productive for themselves and for their families.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

The top five are Stann Creek Ecumenical College, with their project on flood planning; Corozal Community College’s smart vest; Ocean Academy of Caye Caulker in third and rounding out the top five, Belize High School of Agriculture and Sadie Vernon Technical High School, both of Belize City.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “The Raspberry Pi Jam Takes over the Princess”

  1. Eric says:

    Good evening. Just a correction on part of the top 4 winner. It’s not Belize High School, it is Belize High School of Agriculture from Orange Walk. Thank you!

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