Christchurch students develop computer OS

Co-creator Tim Marshall (3 News)
Co-creator Tim Marshall (3 News)

A new computer operating system (OS) designed by school students has the potential to give life back to the old computers thrown into landfills around the world every day, its creators say.

The software, known as George OS, is effectively a replacement for Windows or Mac OS, and uses games and tests to teach basic literacy and numeracy.

A group of six students from St Thomas of Canterbury College are behind the development and hope it can be used to teach Maori and Pacific Island languages, as well as English to refugees.

Co-creator Fergus Sharp says the idea was to create software so basic it could run on outdated equipment anywhere in the world.

"We've looked at companies like airlines, and software companies, they use computers and they go through them really quickly, and they upgrade every time there's a new computer out there," he says.

"Most of the time they just throw them out, and most of those computers still have a life, they can still use them. We're utilising their rubbish for less privileged people."

The volunteer project has been completed out of school time and spearheaded by the boys.

A test run at a local Christchurch school recently returned promising results, with most students dramatically improving their grades after using George OS.

"It's different than most operating systems, because it's designed specifically for education," says co-creator Tim Marshall.

"For example, we've got a space invaders game where there are equations rolling down the screen. They type in the answer to the equation and if they get it right, it blasts off the screen and it's really interactive, really interesting for the kids."

Christchurch East MP Poto Williams was at the school for the product launch today and put her support behind the project.

"I'm really impressed by these young men, they've done an amazing job," she says.

"They're actually 'upcycling' [old computers] and making it useful into the future, that stuff potentially would go into landfill. They're taking an approach of protecting the environment so it's great, and it wins for me in lots of ways."

The students hope the equipment will eventually make its way to third-world countries.

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