Another year, another season and Yarl Geek Challenge is again happening for the 6th consecutive year. By now you probably know what the Yarl Geek Challenge is. But for those of you who are new to the world of Lankan tech, the Yarl Geek Challenge is a hackathon organized by Yarl IT Hub, which aims to make Jaffna the next Silicon Valley. As a part of the journey, this hackathon is organized in two forms. The first is for seniors, who are mostly IT enthusiasts who’ve already left school. The second is for juniors who are the school-goers with a passion for IT. Here’s what we found at the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6.
Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6 begins
Before having the hackathon, it was necessary to educate the students as to what the Yarl Geek Challenge was and what they could do at a hackathon. Thus, the Yarl IT Hub conducted a series of workshops around the Northern province. The first workshop was held at Chavakachcheri Hindu College that led to schools like Mankulam Maha Vidyalayam, Methodist College, Point Pedro, Puloly Computer resource center, Puthukkudiyiruppu Central College. The final one was held Yarl IT Hub space in Jaffna. Following the workshops, applications were opened and participants were given two weeks to work on their ideas. They were given two weeks to prepare for the zonal evaluations.
The zonal level evaluations
On 10th of June, the zonal level evaluations began at five centers this year. The evaluation for Jaffna, Thenmarachi, and Island zones happened at the Yarl IT Hub space in Jaffna. Meanwhile, the evaluations for Vadamarachi was held at the Puloly Resource Center. Additionally, evaluations were also held at the Vavuniya Tamil Mathiya Maha Vidyalayam.
On the next day, more evaluations were held at Mullaitheevu Maha Vidyalam for the Mullaitheevu educational zone. The last evaluation was for Thunukai Zone, which took place on 17th of June. Of the 60+ teams that applied, 30 teams from all the evaluated zones got selected to compete in the Grand Finale of Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6.
The Grand Finale begins
Two weeks had passed, and finally, the big day was here. On the 24th of June, the Grand Finale of the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 had begun. Just like last year, this year’s finals were held at the Kokuvil Hindu College. Once the teams had gathered at the venue, the Grand Finale had begun.
Day 01 was allocated for teams to work with their mentors to polish their ideas. Following lunch, the teams gave their demo pitches and received feedback from both their mentors and the organizing committee to help perfect their pitches before they presented it to the judging panel on Day 02. On the 25th of June, a bright day at Jaffna turned out to be the day for the Juniors to do their final pitching in front of a panel of judges. This was Day 02 of the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6.
Web applications that caught our eyes
This time at the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6 there was a salad of web applications, hardware solutions, and a few mobile applications. While most of the web applications were school websites, we did find some interesting websites from these young minds at the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6.
Varaipadavi is a creation of a team from Jaffna Hindu College. They designed the app for visual learning. Map-marking, naming the part of devices are part of examination papers for school students. To make such learning easier, this team from the Jaffna Hindu College have designed this app in the form of a quiz.
Technocracy is a web app for students to learn what is being taught at school through games. So it basically allows you to learn as you play games on the site. The team believes that this app will be useful for those who spend more time in gaming than in studying since the web app comes as a two in one system.
Health issues are common these days. The team from Vaddukodai Hindu College have designed a site, Healthy Life that includes health tips and videos. This site focuses on the ayurvedic concept of living healthy during one’s lifetime. Another idea for a web app we found was one to manage garbage collection. This was a concept by another team from the Jaffna Hindu College. The system keeps track of data about the trash collection while it also functions according to the individual’s request to collect garbage in a particular location.
A team from Nelliyady Central College had designed a web app that aims to help schools maintain their timetables. The aptly named Web Timetable will allow a school, especially its teachers to make timetables within the hours of teaching. The team stated that the found that it was a time-consuming task to make timetables especially when it comes to A/Ls. This was especially true for the Arts Stream due to the range of subjects available. The system aims to make it easier for teachers to create and students to know their timetables.
Another team from Hartley College had designed a jobs platform. This wasn’t one for those seeking jobs in the government or private sector. Rather this was a platform to help those seeking daily wage jobs. Another concept we saw was the Library Management System, which was designed by a team from Mullaitheevu zone, Puththukudiyiruppu Central College. Since the manual system is a time-consuming method for both librarian and students, this team has designed to help their school with this system.
Booking seats in the theater have to be made online. While such online systems are available in places like Kandy and Colombo, we need one for the North as well, says the team from Mallavi Central College. Feeling the necessity of such platform, this team has designed that idea into a website.
Hardware solutions that impressed us
It is important to note that the number of students participating in the hardware category has been continuously increasing since the inception of the Yarl Geek Challenge Junior. In this season there were about ten hardware ideas that competed at the Grand Finale.
An 11-year-old student from St. John’s College had designed a cap for the blind. BlinC is intended to help the visually impaired while on the move. The system will alert the user with ‘beep’ sounds if there are any obstacles within 5m of them. Furthermore, the device would also detect whether the obstacle is a person or an object.
There were two hardware ideas from Vavuniya South Zone as well. A girl from Vavuniya/Rambaikulam Girls’ MV had designed an IoT device that monitors the temperature, moisture, and light around a plant. She has named the system as SMART Garden which is monitors and sends a report about your plant in the garden. The needs of the plant can be settled out through a mobile itself. Hereafter you can do gardening without even leaving your sofa.
The second team from Vavuniya South zone is from Vavuniya MMV. They had designed SPY Car. As the name suggests, this was a car that could be operated from your smart phone, and when needed it can adjust its movement with the help of the motors and sensors fixed on each wheel of the car.
Controlling the devices at your home with voice commands is another hardware system that was designed by a team from Jaffna College. They have named it as Voice Command System which aims to make the devices at your home function according to your voice commands. Similarly, a team from Karainagar Hindu College designed a smart home system that you can utilize using your smartphone.
What would you do when you’re out of town, and your neighbors ring you to tell that there are intruders in your place? You could try calling the police. But this team from Iranaippalai RCMV has an alternative solution. Their smart home system would be able to control the lights of your house and send calls to your landline. The idea being that the intruders would be frightened and assume the residents are still in the house.
A device was designed by a team from Chavechcheri Hindu College which can be fixed in the glasses wore by visually impaired individuals. Since the device, Smart Glass is set in the glass, the individual need not to worry about carrying it around or feel uncomfortable about it, says the team lead. Another idea we saw at the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6 was aimed at solving a problem with water tanks. People who fill water to their tanks from their well have issues in knowing whether the tank is full or empty. To solve the issue, a team from Vallipulam SHS has designed the system that would allow you to know the water level in your tank and ask you whether you want to fill the tank or not. Also, once the tank is full it automatically turns off the motor.
The mobile apps we found
Many local places of Jaffna aren’t marked on Google Maps. A tourist in Jaffna might struggle to find local shops and nearby places to purchase goods. TrackIT is a mobile app designed by the students from Jaffna Hindu College students to give a location-based information to help find nearby shops and supermarkets.
‘Lives of teachers are getting complicated these days,” said Lavanya from Methodist College, Point Pedro began her pitch. Smart Teacher App comes as a solution to teachers who might be on time at the school but delayed at the signing in procedure. Her app would give the teacher’s location details to the system which simplifies the procedure.
RemindME is an app by Mankulam MMV students participating in the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6 which keeps track of the expiry dates of the goods you buy. Since it is a very common issue at home that we forget the expiry dates of some goods unless it is Nutella. Thus, these students had designed the app to remind you of the ingredients or stored food before they get expired. Another app we saw at the Yarl Geek Challenge Season 6 was one that would’ve taught you how to be a Boy Scout. Additionally, the app also featured a log book that could be used by Boy Scouts to keep track of their outdoor activities.
The awards ceremony
Once the pitches had been made, it was time for lunch. After everyone had returned to the hall following a filling lunch, it was the moment everyone had been waiting for. It was time for the awards ceremony of the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6. The awards ceremony began by recognizing the winners from each of the educational zones. These winners were:
- Jaffna Zone: Varaipadavi by Jaffna Hindu College
- Vadamarachi Zone: Smart Teachers’ app by Methodist College, Point Pedro
- Thenmarachi Zone: Smart Glasses for Blind by Chavachcheri Hindu College
- Island Zone: Smart House by Karainargar Hindu College
- Vavuniya South Zone: SMART Garden by V/ Ramabaikulam Girls’ MV
- Thunukkai Zone: Online theater seat booking by Mallavi Central College
- Mullaitheevu Zone: Security System by Iranapaalai RCMV
- Valikaamam Zone: Technocracy by Vaddukodai Hindu College
After the winners from each zone were announced, the winners from each category were announced. These winners were:
- The best Web App: Varaipadavi by the Jaffna Hindu College
- The best Mobile App: The app for Scouts by the Jaffna College
- The best Hardware Solution: SMART House by the Karainagar Hindu College
And then there was only one award remaining. There was only one more award to give away. That award was the overall winner of the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6. This title was awarded to the App for Scouts designed and presented by the team from Jaffna College. With the vote of thanks, the month long journey of the Yarl Geek Challenge Juniors Season 6, came to an end. However, there’s still more on the horizon. Towards the end of the year, the Yarl IT Hub will be holding it’s annual hackathon that’s become a tradition in the Sri Lankan IT industry now. So mark your calendars and prepare yourselves for a trip up North.