Have you ever thought about the logistics of rubbish collection?
As a father with two children who love loud things, I’ll often say “look, it’s the garbage truck!” to give me a 15-second break in between play time. To them, rubbish collection is the stuff of magic. My children see me drop the rubbish into a bin, then a garbage collector comes and takes that rubbish. Simple, right?
As we get older, we learn more about the mysterious dumping grounds of rubbish. In some cases, even Hollywood takes us there (see District 9) and reminds us that rubbish exists, people collect it for us and it doesn’t just magically vanish.
The energy spent on just the collection process must be huge – I haven’t done all the research but if you know a bit more about that side of things let me know (I’m @ezankov on Twitter). Finding smart solutions using technology is a key driver of why I love teaching digital technologies.
Turning rubbish into a classroom exercise
Through my usual late-night web trawling, I stumbled upon Smart City Solutions. It’s a unique product that sits over existing Australian wheelie bins and provides smarter data solutions to common problems. It takes stock of how much rubbish is accumulating, compacts rubbish to fit up to 8 times more waste, and wirelessly notifies rubbish collectors when it needs emptying.
So what can you do with it in your classroom? Head on over to the data.gov.au website and grab yourself the JSON website link. It’ll look like a huge mess of information – but don’t let that put you off! Students will need to do a little detective work to make sense of it. There is a range of people getting employed to make sense of vast masses of information… you might have heard of data analysts?
It is actually a pretty exciting career to investigate, but before all that serious stuff you want to learn about these JSON files, right?
My students are using this website to present the SmartBin data from Wyndham Council in a visual way. You’ll see in the image below that when presented visually all of sudden that huge dump of information instantly becomes readable.
I’ll be blogging throughout the year on ideas to get you thinking about computer science possibilities to try out and things I am working on in the classroom. I would love to hear from young people, educators and the business community in 2019 on what exciting projects you are undertaking.
Author: Emil Zankov
I’ve been teaching for 10 years and have a passion for all things technology. Growing up in the 90’s I started tinkering with software and hardware, building computers and websites at a young age!