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Nov 22, 2019

Raspberry Pi Jam 2019: Solutions for Challenges in Belize

High schools from across the country gathered in Belize City today where students participated in a competition for young innovators.  The goal is to use a miniature computer platform to perform various innovative I.T. functions. The students were tasked to come up with an innovative project based on the theme, “Inspiring Solutions to Global Challenges through Innovation and Challenges.” We stopped in at today’s showcase to check out some of the creative projects the students have come up with. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more about the competition.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Eleven high schools participated in this year’s Raspberry Pi JAM. It is an annual competition that the Public Utilities Commission hosts to encourage innovation and technology among students. This year the students are using the Raspberry Pi to come up with solutions to problems we face in Belize. The Raspberry Pi is a micro computer platform which can be plugged into a computer monitor of TV and can execute a number of functions. The small device enables people of all ages to use computers, learn how to programme and can be used to interact with the outside world. The PUC has been championing its use among students for the past few years.


Sharolyn Dougal

Sharolyn Dougal, Licensing Administrator (Telecom Unit), PUC

“We have had some quite impressive projects throughout the years and this year is no different. We have a project in regards to the sargassum issue that we have; another one in regards to the mosquito infestation and that pertains to the dengue issue we have as a country; amongst others.   The reason we tried to focus on this theme this year is that we were hoping that a business person or anyone from the community would come and view one of the projects and see an initial use of it in their everyday lives. That way the students can go ahead to the point of patenting their project and having it sold to the institution or other institutions which would thereby help them and their I.T. clubs.”


For the past two months the students have been working on their creative projects. Mopan Technical High School, an agriculture and technical based institution, used the technology to try to find a solution to a problem that they face. Randy Albeno explains how they used the Raspberry Pi to create a project called ‘Automated Chicken Coop Control System.’


Randy Albeno

Randy Albeno, Mopan Technical High School

“This can be very profitable because chicks, right now, if they are not kept in that temperature they will die. At Mopan Tech, we grow a hundred chicks per class every six weeks and with the temperature right now for Christmas it gets too cold and a number of those chicks die and so we are losing profits as we go. So, if we can perfect this and further develop, surely we can bring back that profit.  If the temperature goes over, that system right there will notify the Raspberry Pi to turn on a specific light to heat them up to get them back to the temperature they are meant to be. If it gets too cold, the Raspberry Pi will tell the fan to turn back to take it to certain point.”


Belize High School created a project called Terror Byte. Tyler Godoy shares how they used the technology to come up with a solution for added border surveillance.


Tyler Godoy

Tyler Godoy, Belize High School

“When we were thinking about problems, we realized that Belize has one main reoccurring problem which is our dispute with Guatemala; so we thought about border security. So, we decided that something that we can use without actually having our soldiers out there all the time would be creating a robot or having a camera, so we integrated both. To make it freer to move around we made it into the shape of a dog. So, what it does, the camera has facial recognition so that it can scan people and enter it into a database. It will then notify soldiers or whoever it is on the other side that this person is here and scans them if it has seen them before and if it ever sees them again it will notify them that it is the exact same person again.  It is actually really practical because it is able to move around freely and the kit itself wasn’t exactly expensive so, I am pretty sure we can manufacture it all here in Belize for a cheap price.”


Sharolyn Dougal of the P.U.C. says that the skills the participants acquire can be used in others areas of their lives, even their future careers.


Sharolyn Dougal

“We are living in a technology driven environment. As the PUC, we believe that having the students given this exposure and the type of environment we live in these days, it will assist them in getting by daily. As you know everything these days are getting automated and technology is the thing to go with. Apart from that, the interest that these students have shared and seek into wanting to be a part of the JAM and their IT club, it helps them in their future endeavors.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


The first, second and third place winners took home five, three and two thousand dollars in I.T. equipment for their schools, respectively.  They also each received a plaque.

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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