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UK2 News: An Update On Our Barnardo’s & Raspberry Pi Project

July 23rd, 2015 by

We’re catching up with the team at Barnardo’s who have been working on an exciting project in collaboration with Raspberry Pi and UK2!

You may remember that some time ago we announced our partnership with Barnardo’s and Raspberry Pi. The partnership is part of our ongoing corporate social responsibility efforts: over the past eight months we’ve been supporting a project in our local borough of Tower Hamlets to encourage more young people into tech. These youngsters were enrolled on the programme to give them an improved chance in life; they will have the opportunity to join us for a period of work experience following their studies to see what life in a technology role is really like!

We caught up with our friends at Barnardo’s recently to get the low-down on some of the intuitive ways the young people are learning to use the Raspberry Pi.

So tell us a bit about the Raspberry Pi project you’ve got going on at The Hub…

We’re currently working on a project which we affectionately know as The Beehive Project. The young people set up and continue to monitor a community beehive!

Workers at The Hub talked to them and helped them plan a project they wanted to be involved in. Everything has been led by these young people; they wanted something that would help improve their CVs but would also benefit the local community. Community beehives have been created before, but this is the first time they have been created by a group of young people and monitored using Raspberry Pi computers.

The Beehive Project involves working with young people in Tower Hamlets who have been identified by the local authority as being vulnerable. They are young people who are not in education or employment they are perceived to be at risk of involvement with crime, homelessness and other problems. For this reason we really felt it was important to involve them at every step of the project process to give them as much experience as possible.

That sounds great, uniting technology and nature! How are the young people using the Raspberry Pi specifically within the project?

The Raspberry Pi has helped the young people overcome a number of obstacles when organising the project and seeing it through. Unfortunately, it is not enough to just have a beehive in a park; it’s hard to get to during school hours and difficult to study.

A key aim of this project was to get a webcam inside the beehive so primary school children could learn about how bees make honey while watching remotely from their classrooms. Of the project’s value to others, one student said: “We want children in schools to benefit from this – not just us. Our project should benefit the whole community.”.

Through the project the young people have overcome hurdles with prowess, overcoming a particular issue where the camera was being obscured by the bees! The challenge they currently face is using the Raspberry Pi to count the bees. This has been done before with birds in bird-boxes, but doing it with bees provides a range of new challenges. Watch this space…

How has their understanding of technology and attitude towards it as a part of everyday life developed throughout the project?

The young people now expect technology to be integral to projects they work on, as is the case in today’s digital climate. They assume there will be a way to solve whatever problems they face and make the technology work; their work with the Raspberry Pi is testament to this.

Sometimes this attitude is a real bonus and sometimes it leads to a reality-check when things are harder than they’d imagined, which we believe is really important in the learning curve which the young people face today.

As well as developing technical literacy, this project has been a great opportunity for them to learn about problem-solving, compromise and innovation. We have been able to give youngsters the tools they need to make some of their ideas a reality. Young people who had little or no experience working with electronics have been able to expand their skillset and put down valuable experience on their CVs.

How has the collaboration between our technological community and your social work helped to benefit these young people?

The most exciting thing about this project is that it has been driven by young people from the beginning. From start to finish it was their idea and their vision for helping the environment and local schools.

Equipment from Raspberry Pi and UK2 has enabled us to give them the tools they need and support them while they make mistakes, figure things out and create something new. Having the technology to actually count the bees in the beehive is really new – the bees don’t want to be counted so it’s been quite difficult! Being able to use technology in this way has breathed life and meaning into the project. The young people have learned a lot and we’ve learned from them too!

Find out more about our corporate social responsibility efforts here.

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