Aug 27, 2018

Launch of the Jamii (Community) Technology Program

Banana peeler prototype testing. Exciting times!
Banana peeler prototype testing. Exciting times!

Hello Twende Community!

We continue to be blown away by your appreciation and generous contribution to what we do here at Twende. It has been such a wonderful journey seeing so many young people come into Twende and materialize their solutions to real problems they see and/or experience in their communities. It all happens with your help so thank you very much!

This quarter we did a lot of work with youth within the local community, alongside with the Creative Capacity Building,  During this time, colleges, universities and similar institutions close for a couple of months and so there are a lot of youth doing internships or at home keeping themselves busy. Twende thought this would be a superb time to introduce our Jamii Technology Program (JTP). JTP brings local youth as well as international youth together with a specific community, and together they team up to identify a specific problem within that community that they can solve together using their innovative ideas and abilities. These innovative technologies are created from scratch in hope to go through many prototype phases and finally a finished product that can be used by the community it was created to help.

We were lucky to get a group of ten youths, of which nine out of ten were Tanzanian and one was from the US. After a week of our traditional Creative Capacity Building session that introduced the youth to what Twende is about and all the machines and equipment in our maker space, they divided up into three groups and each was taken to a community in order to identify a problem and work with them to find an innovative solution. We were graced with four great ideas that were a wheelchair for kids with cerebral palsy, a banana peeler, a sunflower seed thresher and a paper-bag maker. Over the weeks we saw drawings turn into very impressive prototypes!

One of the ideas that have really caught the attention of many was the wheelchair for kids with cerebral palsy. The team of three (Colman, Eamon, and Goodluck) presented their first prototype in one of Twende’s other pilots called MakerSoko that is a physical exhibition that we hope to do annually as well as an online platform that will help showcase innovative technologies to the rest of Tanzania and the world! Their wheelchair, known as Kyaro Wheelchair (Kyaro means Safari or journey in Chagga, a tribal language in North-east Tanzania), got so much attention that they were invited to exhibit it at the International Youth Week Exhibition and further still in a Government Youth Center in Tanga later on in the year. It has been so exciting seeing how their technology not only showed to be important for the community they were making it for but that perhaps after a few more prototypes it could help the entire nation. The team is already working on their second prototype.

Twende loves to celebrate the creativity and innovative abilities of our youth and are so excited to see where all the projects will end up. We believe this generation has so much potential and are the future of a better Tanzania, one that solves is own problems with innovation. In the next few months, we will continue to follow up on how individual projects are doing as well as continue to work on our new project. We love that you continue to support us and keep track of what we are up to. Do sign up for our newsletter and follow us on our social accounts (Facebook and Instagram) or watch our GlobalGiving organization page.

This would not have been possible without you. Thank you so much!

Warmly,

Ellie & the Twende team

Team paper-bag maker prototype presentation
Team paper-bag maker prototype presentation
Kyaro Wheelchair at the MakerSoko exhibition
Kyaro Wheelchair at the MakerSoko exhibition

Links:

May 29, 2018

Student Projects at Twende Continue!

Felix working on his hydropower prototype
Felix working on his hydropower prototype

Hello Twende Community :)

Thank you again for your amazing generosity in our work. Because of your support, we have exceeded our $10,000 goal for the Form 4 Design Competition! This is amazing, and we are blown away by the 77 individuals and organizations who believe in what we do. Asanteni sana, thank you so much!

The past 3 months has been a whirlwind of activity at Twende. During the first half of the calendar year, we focus on working with local secondary school students. One student from the Form 4 Design Competition designed a water filter that transforms murky, muddy water into clean, clear water. We are impressed with his work and are trying to match him with a local technology startup that designs, manufactures, and distributes clean water through water filters and water stations in and around Arusha. They have a water testing laboratory that would be great for the student to see and use!

We have also been able to allocate some of the excess budget from the Form 4 Design Competition to our local secondary school outreach programs, where we run a short Introduction to Circuits workshop in secondary schools (a curriculum co-created between our Creativity Trainer Chris, MIT professors, and several Twende interns) and invite the more enthusiastic students to Twende. We then teach these students our DIY affordable torch (made of old water bottles and PVC pipe) and DIY solar phone charger (made of broken solar panels donated from a local technology startup). Then these students are challenged to think of their own ideas. We've seen students work on projects from hydropower to biogas recycling food waste to attempts at drones & electric cars. It's wonderful to see how these students light up when given the opportunity to be creative.

In addition to these programs, we have been running a longer-term training with a secondary school in a rural village about an hour away from Arusha. These students come to Twende twice a week for full days of designing and fabricating their projects, after attending an initial Creative Capacity Building workshop to brainstorm and begin ideas. Some of their projects include a corn cob grinder (because corn cobs are usually thrown away or burned, when they could be grinded into livestock feed), a device to control smoke (because usually smoke produced from cooking inside homes does not get directed out very effectively, resulting in poor health outcomes), and a stable stove (because balancing pots of food on 3-stone fires is challenging on uneven, rocky, hilly ground – like what is commonly found in this village). These are technologies designed by those who experience the problems and who now have the opportunity to create their own solutions.

We are proud to support such creative problem solvers to design and make technologies that improve life in Tanzanian communities. We look forward to see what this next generation can do! In the next few months, we will continue to plan for similar workshops with an older audience while running a pilot program for university students to work with local community partners to co-create technologies solving a challenge of the community partners. We would be delighted if you decided to continue supporting us. We’ll be opening a new project page soon. Keep up by signing up for our newsletter, following us on Facebook, or watching our GlobalGiving organization page.

Thank you again. We could not have done this without you!

Warmly,

Debbie & the Twende team

Form 4 student sharing his water filter prototype
Form 4 student sharing his water filter prototype
Students lighting up an LED through Circuit Intro
Students lighting up an LED through Circuit Intro

Links:

Feb 26, 2018

Form 4 Leavers Begin at Twende!

Frank showing his rainwater harvest sketch model
Frank showing his rainwater harvest sketch model

Hello Twende supporters :)

Thank you again for your generosity and belief in what we do! We managed to raised the $5,000 in 6 weeks needed to earn a permanent spot on the Global Giving platform. This will make it easier for any future donors to support us as we continue to fundraise for the remaining $1,826 of our $10,000 goal for the end of March 2018. Plus, we have already benefited from the large amount of capacity building support Global Giving provides through its resources. For instance, Epifania, our Education Coordinator, has used Global Giving articles to start experimenting with making a Twende video! It is her first time video-editing. We’ll share results once they’re ready.

As you know, with your support, we are piloting our first design competition right now. We wanted to be able to spend more time with Form 4 Leavers, who have a six-month holiday between Form 4 and Form 5. We began last month with 12 Form 4 Leavers From 7 schools independently coming to Twende to present their ideas to our team and participate in our flagship workshop: Creative Capacity Building (CCB). During CCB, students learned about the importance of the design process, carried out a design challenge, and made a small, useful tool. They also delved deeper into their ideas and came up with sketch models using old cardboard, plastic bottles, paper, etc.

This was a great start to the competition! A handful of students regularly came back to Twende to work on their ideas, ranging from reusing shower water for toilet flushing to purifying water using the sun, and we thought the rest were working on their projects at home since a number of ideas were quite large and involved installations in the home.

But what we realized from discussions with the students is that a number of students were not as comfortable with the water theme as we had thought. Many felt like they couldn’t come up with anything innovative enough to win the cash prize, while others were so stuck but didn’t know who to ask for help since Twende staff had to be careful to ensure the fairness of the competition.

What we also realized from our conversations with the students is how creative and ambitious they are. They had plenty of ideas of things to build, if only they had the materials and tools. We heard ideas like making a machine to slash feed for livestock, a helicopter, and an infinite energy machine. Of course, not all of these are possible to finish within a few months, with little to no mechanical or electrical hands-on experience, and some limitations on materials (no vibranium here).  Instead of focusing on the ‘competition’ element, we started asking: how might we use the students’ existing ideas to encourage them to make?

We talked to a few of them about changing the direction of this design program, and they were enthusiastic to be given a different opportunity to bring ideas to life. We as Twende acknowledged that innovating a technology is hard work that requires constant support and self-motivation. Most of these students have never ever had the chance to make their dream ideas into realities because of a lack of resources and forcing them to jump immediately into a themed competition is not the right fit right now. Youth have so much natural curiosity and drive - let’s make sure they can use their strengths to grow their creative confidence and innovate!

Thus, we’ve evolved the design program for Form 4 Leavers to have two directions. The first is to continue the original water design challenge, so students who wish can continue working towards the cash prize. The second is to provide materials and technical advising to make any project they’d like. Students are now speaking with Bernard (our Director of Technology) and Chris (our Creativity Trainer) about their ideas and together, they can come up with a reasonable goal for the student to work on. If the student achieves the goal, she or he will receive a certificate, a toolkit to continue making technologies, and an invitation to a small celebration lunch.

Let’s use the helicopter idea as an example. Because making a life-sized, functioning helicopter is advanced even for technical professors, the student and Bernard & Chris might decide the goal is just to make something small fly up and down. The student will learn mechanical and electrical skills while trying to make this happen. If we realize the initial goal is not possible for some reason, then we’ll come together with the student to reshape her goal. Design requires iterations and understanding the problem - good design does not happen at once. After she does achieve a goal, Twende will give her a toolkit with some small tools like a soldering gun, soldering wire, and a dynamo motor. This student can continue experimenting with the toolkit and meet other successful makers at the celebration lunch to stay inspired. Her parents will be proud to see their child so engaged and successful, and hopefully the student comes back to Twende to keep innovating.

The steps to our goal of creating a Tanzania of innovative problem solvers who design & make their own life-improving technologies need to be small and part of a longer-term process. We cannot expect people who have little-to-no experience with making to suddenly make the next game-changing, disruptive technology. With our ability to be responsive to what we see on-the-ground in-real-time, we’re able to adjust our directions as needed to ensure our programs are effective and cost-efficient. We will continue trying ideas to find the best way forward.

Thank you for helping make this journey possible!

Best,

Debbie & the Twende team

Bahati sawing metal for her bottle opener
Bahati sawing metal for her bottle opener

Links:

 
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