Winners announced in national programming challenge


Schoolchildren and undergraduates gathered this week at London’s Science Museum for the final of PA Consulting Group’s second Raspberry Pi programming competition. Thirteen groups of finalists presented their inventions – which would ‘help the environment’ – to a high-profile judging panel.

Thee judging panel included Cambridge University’s professor of computer technology Andy Hopper, BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones and Raspberry Pi’s director of educational development Clive Beale.

The winners

Primary school: ages 8 – 11 St Mary’s CE Primary School, Horsham

The winning entry in the primary school category was a robot that teaches children how to recycle. The invention, which is easy to assemble, is aimed at children between the ages of four and seven. The robot scans household items then tells the user whether the item can be recycled and, if so, which recycling bin to use.

Why the team won: An incredibly energetic team bursting with ideas, the children were able to clearly explain how this product could be rolled out nationwide.

Finalists: Mereside Primary School, Norton Community Primary School

Secondary school: ages 11 – 16 Frome Community College, Somerset

Frome Community College’s winning entry in the secondary school category was a system that allows people to remotely monitor the environmental conditions in their garden. Known as the ‘Plant Pi’, the device uses its attached sensors to monitor temperature, humidity, light intensity, rain and soil moisture and then relays the information to the user through the web. Plants can then be watered at the press of a button. The Plant Pi will also automatically water plants if soil moisture falls below a certain level.

Why the team won: The invention was brilliantly conceived from start to finish. The conception, design and engineering of the Plant Pi were all impressive.

Finalists: Richard Lander School, Tanbridge House School, Highgate School

Secondary school: age 16 – 18 Newcastle College – Digital Skills Academy

The winners in this category invented a device to give early warning of forest fires. Gathering data through its moisture and humidity sensors, the device is programmed to upload readings to a website automatically. Should the readings dip below certain levels, an email alert is automatically sent to the local authorities, warning them that current environmental conditions could lead to a forest fire.

Why the team won: This device is a very interesting take on a serious problem. There was great teamwork in evidence and all members of the team contributed different skills to the final innovation.

Finalists: Haileybury School, St Mary’s Cambridge

Undergraduates: Exeter University

Exeter University’s ‘PiPark’ helps drivers find empty parking spaces in cities and towns. The device benefits the environment by reducing the high levels of damaging emissions caused by cars idling during peak traffic hours while looking for a parking space. The device uses a camera attachment that periodically relays parking-space availability data to a central server. This server stores and presents the information on a webpage, showing users where they can park.

Why the team won: The team gave a slick and impressive presentation that took the judges through every step of the process. This project showed a huge variety of skills – from communications to user interface.

Finalists: University of Birmingham, Newcastle University

Anita Chandraker, head of IT delivery at PA Consulting Group, said: “As there was so much enthusiasm around last year’s competition, we wanted to give schoolchildren and university students another chance to develop their programming skills and show off their creativity and passion for technology.

“The inventions we have seen show tremendous potential and highlight some of the incredible things that can be achieved through programming. I hope that the teams will build on the programming skills, team work and creativity that were required for this challenge and inspire many more young people to get involved.”

The judges were: Andy Hopper, Professor of Computer Technology at Cambridge University; Clare Sutcliffe, founder of Code Club; Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent; Clive Beale, Director of Educational Development at Raspberry Pi Foundation; Joan Lasenby, Senior Lecturer at Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering; Andy Smith, Chief Information Officer at ARM; and Anita Chandraker, head of IT delivery at PA Consulting Group.

Find out more about the PA Raspberry Pi competition here.


PA Consulting Group is an innovation and transformation consultancy. We believe in the power of ingenuity to build a positive human future in a technology-driven world.

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