As beginners, we had some trouble coming up with ideas that could be useful or of significant importance. We decided to follow an algorithm that would help us solve mazes every time, until we realized that we could have hit upon something that could be potentially quite useful.
What it does
This program gives the most efficient route from point A to point B, also known as start and end in terms of a maze. It is designed to maneuver around obstacles, and displays this as a path consisting of straight line segments.
How we built it
We built in python using PIL(Python Imaging Library) to trace the path of the solution, process the maze itself, and show the solution to the user. We used an pathfinding algorithm known as Breadth-First Search to calculate the optimal path from the start to the end. We used http://www.mazegenerator.net/ to generate sample mazes of different sizes and Zamzar to convert the .svg files to .png files.
Challenges we ran into
Primarily, we didn't know what would be a good idea, whether it was too simple or too complicated, or whether it was even applicable to real life. We eventually were able to land on something simple, and alongside creatively found that there was a application to this rather than just solving mazes. Usually, when we are solving a maze, we are trying to find the shortest path from point A to point B. One problem we ran into was the fact that the trace path went along the perimeter from one gap to the other, instead of going through the maze. We were able to work around this fairly quickly though.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We took alternative ways to solve a maze, rather than the solutions that many people have posted online. We also used a rather complex algorithm, that many wouldn't use to solve as simple of a problem. We are also quite proud of the fact that we could make something that has the potential to help save possible lives, and we could be making a difference.
What we learned
We learned that sometimes simple is better than complicated. We were able to use something as simple as solving a maze as an outside application for solving much bigger problems such as saving lives. This taught us that as high schoolers, we can start to form ideas that could have a huge impact on the world, and with our ideas, we can have either a really good impact or a not so good impact depending on our intentions. It all starts from a problem, and then an idea, which with creativity and hard work, can become a reality. This is really the key of what we have learned at our first hackathon.
What's next for Solving Mazes - Sometimes Simplicity is the Key
Due to the time allotted, and our beginner experience, we extended to our limits to built what we could. We can always make this better because buildings will not always cubic or rectangular in shape, and could be a lot more complex. By factoring those 3D shapes in as well, we could solve for many more people and organizations in the future, and many more people living in the nation.