When I first heard about a Drone Racing event at the Norwich Science Festival, I couldn’t wait to see these machines first hand, however after chatting to the event organiser, I found out about the amazing work the charity behind the event completes across the world.
The event was aimed at children with an interest in programming and engineering, whilst doing something fun at the same time, which was clear to see from the faces of those involved. The event was held at University Technical College Norfolk, and the task was to build up some code in blocks (imagine playing Tetris horizontally) in order to programme a drone to fly around a specific course and land on a target. This was all done through an application on a tablet, and the children had to work in teams through trial and error over an hour before their programming skills were showcased one final course run, the closest team to the target taking home the glory.
Milling around with the children (and a few big kids) it was clear to see the problem-solving and maths skills being employed to work out the timing and distance required to navigate the course, and overall it seemed like a lot of fun. However, when I got chatting to the organiser, Gavin Paterson, about Yellowbric the charity, I found out about the importance of their work and the impact of technology as a learning tool.
YellowBric is a Norfolk based charity that transforms the lives of students in sub-Saharan Africa by providing digital media to achieve literacy and escape poverty. Schools in Africa may only have 20 paper books for children, however Yellowbric provide a digital solution (namely Tablets) that contain over 2000 books for the same cost. They also work with partner charities to understand how their devices are being used, what additional content is required and how their digital library is impacting on literacy. In return they provide training, E-learning materials teachers and technical support, along with helping schools create their own eBooks. The charity embodies the ethos that a sustainable society is possible without aid, is proving that cost effective technology investment can have huge impacts in developing areas of the world.
The charity is also active in the community, raising funds by hosting events such as the first ever Norwich contest of the ambitious crossover sport of chess-boxing (yes, it is chess and boxing on alternative rounds, repeated until checkmate or KO) and supporting the Science in Farming event at the Norfolk Showground in March 2018, teaching year 5 children how unmanned aerial vehicles can be used to map and analyse crops.
This involvement in the community, along with the amazing projects currently undertaken in Africa was a real eye-opener and shows the amazing positive effect that technology can have in children’s lives all over the world.