As a hands-on learner, working with technology makes me genuinely excited about learning. I and two others came together to enter a competition called Next Generation Technology (NGT). In this competition, participants must come up with and implement a solution for a real-world issue.
I knew what I had in mind, right when the competition started. When I was just a kid, my parents had accidentally forgotten me in the car. I remember not being able to get my seatbelt off and screaming for help for what felt like hours. Eventually, my grandpa heard me screaming, and came to my rescue. Some children are not as fortunate as I was. In 2018 alone, 48 children died from being left in hot cars (NSC, 2018). Our design was a “smart” booster seat for children. The seat has integrated temperature and weight sensors, GPS tracking, and an LTE-M cellular chip to connect to the internet. This IoT (Internet of Things) connected seat then can communicate with a data logging server and an app that I have programmed in Android Studio. If the child were left in the seat, the app would initially set off an alarm on the parent’s phone to remind them to retrieve their child. If the parent does not acknowledge the risk, the app promptly contacts emergency services with the location of the child.
This example of a real-world issue truly ignites my interest in learning, as it lights my passion for technology and humanity.
I walk forward, feeling eyes like laser beams following my every move. I see a few of the figures exchange words, with their guarded stares. I feel out of place, unwelcome and uninvited. I enter the elevator with the sick feeling of uneasiness. The small elevator is packed to the brim with homeless people. I uncomfortably mumble a greeting, and we get through half of the ride with no incident until something unexpected happens.
The entire group started laughing. They cried out in fits of giggles “We don’t bite, boy” and “Don’t you wear the worried face.” With the tension in the air broken, I was able to relax. You see, I was volunteering at a homeless shelter, and I was terrified. I met a good deal of these people facing homelessness and made some new friends. One told me about how he lost his house trying to support his ill mother. Another told me how her husband had left her, and she couldn’t afford to support her children anymore, so they went to live with their aunt.
Something I had never contemplated before. Homeless people aren’t always homeless because of bad decisions they make. Many of them suffer unfortunate situations that led them to be homeless. They truly are people, just like us, and we shouldn’t treat them as any less.
The issue of supporting the less-fortunate is one of utmost importance to me. This lesson was taught to me by kind-hearted and genuine people who face unfortunate circumstances.