STEM - Benefits provided to KMC
We are at a crossroads in education where we must foster Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills in our school system or face an uncertain future where emerging economies pass us by. KMC AFCEA chapter 158 has endeavored to do just that. In November of 2013 the KMC AFCEA Young AFCEANs set forth on a mission to reinvigorate our commitment to local STEM programs by organizing a first-of-its-kind Raspberry Pi competition.
The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized computer that can be used in electronics projects and for many of the functions a desktop PC normally performs, such as spreadsheet editing, word-processing, and gaming. It also plays high-definition video. The Raspberry Pi fit into our plan to provide 12 teams of four participants each with a computing platform, several peripherals and a rubric.
In February the teams were assembled and provided two STEM mentors ranging from computer engineers to structural engineers from chapter membership. The competition culminated on June 1st at the Kaiserslautern Military Community Complex where 40 competitors from 3 Department of Defense High schools, along with 16 mentors, displayed projects ranging from an automated vegetable watering system measuring moisture content in the soil to a home security system utilizing the camera to detect unwanted visitors. After a tense 30-minute debate, the judges were able to choose the winners. In first place, from Kaiserlautern High School, was team “Pi Box”. Team Pi Box created an automated recycling system that read the bar code on plastic bottles, placing them in the appropriate recycling container. Second place went to Team “Rasberry Cube” From Ramstein High School. The team of four freshmen created a cube matrix of 1024 LEDs controlled by the Raspberry Pi. Utilizing both open source and homegrown code they were able to display what seemed to be a holographic picture from the cube. In third place were team “Home Security” from Ramstein High School. Their project utilized both home grown and open source code to compare two pictures taken with the camera module, determine if there were changes to the picture, then alert the home owner by automated text message and e-mail.
This year’s competition was a great success and with the feedback received from mentors and participants we foresee next year’s event will be even better. KMC AFCEA Chapter 158 stepped up to the plate and cemented its place as the premier chapter in Europe.