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Capturing Bees with Micro-Controller by Lebenshilfe Ennstal from Austria, Winner of Code for the Planet Category in 2021

Get inspired by the story of Lebenshilfe Ennstal whose event raised awareness of an important environmental issue and our planet's greatest endangered treasure: the bees.

Lebenshilfe Ennstal: the Meet and Code Team

1. Please introduce your organisation in 1-2 sentences.

We are from the “Lebenshilfe Ennstal”, which translated into English literally means: “Life-help!”. That is more or less the essence of what we do here. The department that took part in Meet and Code is a project that helps young adults who need assistance in the preparation for vocational training.

2. Describe your event in 1-2 sentences and tell us what makes it special.

The aim of our innovative project was to monitor bees’ behaviour using microcontrollers. Working with young adults between the ages of 15 and 20, and with the assistance of local beekeepers, the project aimed to use straightforward coding knowledge and cost-effective hardware to learn more about the natural environment and its process of change.

3. Why did you choose to participate in Meet and Code?

On the one hand, we recognised the value in our young adults learning more about basic coding, programming and electrical engineering. On the other hand, it was important for them to learn more about our bees and their incredible sensitivity to changes in their natural environment. It was a fantastic opportunity to get involved in something innovative and exciting.

4. What are the results of the project (long-term perspective)?

The bee-counting system enables beekeepers to recognise any changes in the colony, e.g., the strength and development of the colony can be observed and, in combination with other measuring devices, there is the potential to measure and detect other factors like robber bees or viruses. The measuring device therefore provides us with important information about how the colonies are doing.

5. Why is it a success? Is it scalable?

Before the project began, most of the young adults had no coding, programming or electrical engineering experience whatsoever. The project got them enthusiastic about programming and helped them see how they could have a positive influence on their natural environment. This was a cost-effective project that could be undertaken anywhere people want to protect their bees!

6. Give us 1-2 quotes from the participants.

“I would never have thought that I would ever learn how to program. I found the project really exciting because I got the chance to learn lots of new things. I can actually imagine how I would program gaming-apps now!” – participant of the project, 15 years old. “I found the project really interesting. It was something different for a change. It was pretty cool to learn the programming language and how to solder. I also learnt how to avoid a short circuit – so I don’t set anything on fire!” – participant, 15 years old.

7. What gave you the most joy while working on the project this year? How can you motivate others to participate in the 2022 edition?

It was such a joy to see how the young adults gradually became more and more curious and enthusiastic about the project. They asked lots of questions and showed a real interest in the learning process. This was evidence enough for us that the project was a great success. It definitely pays off to try something different for a change!