Appropriate Technology Collaborative

The Appropriate Technology Collaborative creates sustainable technologies that promote economic growth and improve the quality of life for low income people worldwide. We design, develop, demonstrate, and distribute affordable technologies. Working in collaboration with local talent and other nonprofits (NGOs) we create solutions that are culturally sensitive, environmentally responsible and locally repairable in order to improve the quality of life and reduce adverse impacts on the environment.
Aug 20, 2013

Mayan Women's Solar Workshop

First Solar Power System Assembled
First Solar Power System Assembled
ATC Logo With Text and Slogan JPEG

ATC Circuits and Solar Workshop for Mayan Women 2013


Women Carpentry Workshop 1200
Mayan Women Learn Carpentry at CECAP School in Santa Cruz Guatemala

On July 17, 2013 we held the first part of the ATC workshop "Circuits and Solar" for Mayan women mentors and teachers who work with Mayan girls in Solola and Santiago, Guatemala, part of our Mayan Power and Light program.   Our local Engineers, José Ordoñez and Carlos Alvarez taught the course at the CECAP school in Santa Cruz La Laguna.  The four part workshop begins with an introduction to carpentry tools.  The CECAP facility is perfect for this because they have a well equipped shop plus they have an ATC solar demonstration project on the roof.  

For the carpentry course, the women were given an overview of the tools available and then given the challenge of building a wooden box to specified dimensions.  For several of the women attending the workshop this was the first time they had worked with carpentry tools, and from their feedback they had a great time!
 

Learning Electronics 1200     Learning Electronics 2 1200
Learning About Electricity, Circuits and Controls
 
After completing the introduction to carpentry workshop, the women moved on to learning about electricity, circuits and controls for circuits.  This part of the workshop includes the use of professional quality tools such as "bread boards" that allow you to easily connect various components of an electric circuit.  The women used volt meters, resistors, LEDs and a variety of fun electronic components like buzzers and photo diodes.  The women learned a lot in short period of time.  

Jose Teaching 1200     Woman With Solar Light 2 1200
Jose Demonstrating and Women Learning How To Wire Together Solar Power Systems
The next day the workshop moved to Panajachel, near the office of our partners for this project, Starfish One-By-One.  Each mentor received an ATC "Kit Solar". Each kit contains a complete solar power system that provides two lights plus a USB cell phone charger for homes that don't have access to electricity.  

Note:  Each home that lacks electricity burns candles and kerosene lamps to see at night.  With candles and kerosene you burn a lot of fuel and get relatively little light.  Also families that burn kerosene inhale a lot of toxic smoke, equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes per day for every member of the family according to the World Health Organization.  Converting to solar saves lives!


 

Installing Solar 1200
Hands On Solar Installation
 
The final part of the workshop was installing a solar power system on a home that lacks electricity.  The women did all the work and they did it like seasoned professionals.  

The family that has the new solar power system actually was once connected to the electric grid but the cost of electricity in Guatemala (and most less economically developed countries) is much more than in the United States.  It is an unfortunate truth that the poor often pay more for basic services than those of us who are more affluent.  However the high cost of electricity makes solar power a very attractive option for Guatemalans.

971908_10200116420773912_1607951622_n     07.18.2013_solar-panel-worshop5 (2)
   Workshop participants with Jose and Carlos       Graduates of the Circuits and Solar Workshop 


I visited part three of the workshop as the women were starting to test solar panels and wire together their "Kits Solares".  There was a level of intensity and excitement in the room with the women asking lots of questions and having fun learning new skills.  Several days after the workshop, I talked with Norma, the Director of Starfish in Panajachel and she said that for many of the women this was a life changing experience.  They never had imagined that they could learn and accomplished so much in a technical field like solar power.  

The ultimate goal of our Mayan Power and Light project is to help Mayan Girls start a solar power cooperative.  The workshop participants have already asked us for extra solar hardware for additional installations.  


Success: 

We have been very fortunate to collaborate with Starfish One-By-One, an NGO which provides opportunities and mentoring for young Mayan women and our Engineers José Ordoñez and Carlos Alvarez, who make learning technical subjects fun. We also thank Michael Smith of Ann Arbor who created the original Circuits and Solar curriculum.  We also need to thank you for your contribution to this project!   Without you and our local collaborative partners, our Mayan Power and Light fproject would not be possible.

Mayan Power and Light is successful beyond our original goals.  We started this program with the intention of providing the Circuits and Solar workshop to a total of 4 women mentors and 24 Mayan Girls.  We are now on track to teach 12 mentors and 45 Mayan girls this year.  (We also have a waiting list of over 100 for next year)

In order to continue our success we need to find more funding so each girl can get a "Kit Solar" ($100 ea.) and have the experience of installing solar power on a home that lacks electricity.  We also need to pay for more teachers and additional transportation, books and materials.  

Please consider a donation to this program through Global Giving:  http://bit.ly/MayanPowerandLight

Thank you,

 

John S. Barrie

Executive Director
The Appropriate Technology Collaborative
3796 Plaza Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48108
ph:   734.668.4811

www.apptechdesign.org
 
Jul 19, 2013

Additional Material Added to "Circuits and Solar"

This summer we added sections to our "Circuits and Solar" curriculum, and we have had our first trial of the new curriculum yesterday and today (in Guatemala)

The additional material helps students understand how to connect solar panels together to either create higher voltage or higher amperage.  (The total amount of electricity is the same)

We are not achieving our goal to support our NGO friends in Cameroon.  We will continue this campaign and add a new page on our website to see if we can create a better support network for our partners.  

We will be posting about the Cameroon campaign later this fall.  

Thank you 

John Barrie

May 22, 2013

Exceeding Expectations

Testing a Small Solar Power System
Testing a Small Solar Power System

I am just back from Guatemala where I met with the lead teacher for women's class for Circuits and Solar.

We had 32 women sign up to learn to teach the class for the Spring / Summer term.  We had originally decided that we would teach 2 women mentors in the Spring and another 2 women in the Fall.  With such enthusiasm on the part of the teachers we have changed the program to teach 12 Mayan women mentors this summer and a total of 45 students in the fall.  Note:  This far exceeds our original goal of teaching 4 women mentors and 24 - 36 students.  

This leaves us with a dilemma.  We have created a class that bridges the technology gap between men and women but because the class is expensive to teach (each student and teacher receives a solar power kit which costs ATC just under $100.00 each) plus we have had to add a class in how to use basic construction tools for the women mentors.   It looks like we  are going to come up short at the end of the year by $3,500 - $4,000.

We try to have our reports be upbeat and not just another request for funding.  Unfortunately this time we need to break with our tradition and ask you for a donation to help this program be the success people have come to expect from The Appropriate Technology Collaborative.  

Also of news, we have made some changes in the curriculum and how the class is taught.  Each student and teacher will be responsible for installing their solar power system in a home or other building that lacks electricity.  They will work in groups so everyone has experience with more than one installation. 

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