A ‘RUBBISH’ idea has helped youngsters challenged to come up with innovations to help save the planet to strike gold.

Belhaven Hill School was among a dozen schools from throughout the country taking part in the finals of the PA Raspberry Pi Competition, held in London.

The event challenges children to invent systems that could benefit society using their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills and a Raspberry Pi microcomputer.

Pupils at the Dunbar school created ‘Project Polar Bear’ – an automatic bin opener that sorts different rubbish using artificial intelligence (AI).

Olly Langton, headmaster, praised the efforts of Will Pook, the school’s head of computing.

He said: “The boys have also been busy at school with their academic, sporting, artistic, drama and musical commitments.

“They have worked hard on their Raspberry Pi competition entry, sacrificing their own time but benefitting from the length of our school day and the support of teachers, many of whom live on site, to fine-tune their project to competition-winning level.”

The five Year 7 (aged 11/12) boys – Charlie, Tom, Harry, Laurie and Fin – decided to create a waste management system called Project Polar Bear.

They used a programme on the Raspberry Pi and a series of motors to build a prototype using recycled wooden pallets and modified bins.

Waste material is scanned and identified with the relevant bin lid opening to allow the rubbish to be correctly thrown away.

Their final entry was the Project Polar Bear prototype, filmed in action, accompanied by a written submission explaining the trials and challenges of the process, as well as a video of the Belhaven team explaining each individual’s role.

Mr Langton said: “They’ve developed some valuable life skills as a result of entering this competition – it’s all part of the holistic education that we aim to provide here at Belhaven. The team has learnt about the role of the tech guru, the project manager, the media guy and the materials expert.

“They have learnt the importance of sticking to a budget and planning their time to ensure that deadlines are met.

“Finally, they’ve learnt the vital process of understanding and applying different coding languages.

“This experience should help equip these young creators for solving the problems of the future.”

In the final, the kilted boys from Belhaven competed against three other entries in their age category (Years 7-9).

Concepts included a solar powered device that tracked the movement of the sun; a robot that drills the soil, then plants and waters seeds; and a mapping system to support the delivery of parcels via electric scooter.

Mr Pook added: “The boys have been amazing throughout the process. We have literally experienced blood, sweat and tears to get to London. This win really vindicates the hard work and pressure they have put themselves through.

“I’m sure these boys will have bright futures ahead of them and I am honoured to be a part of their journey.

“I can’t wait to go through the process again next year with a bigger group in the geek squad. The sky’s the limit!”

The boys won £1,000 for their school.