The project phase of our class is officially up and running. The students came back with a lot of good project ideas and directions. Last week they endured a grueling 3 hour, rapid fire narrowing process to quickly coalesce on just 4 project and a few specific directions for each project. We now have the following 4 projects in the works:
1) A low energy water distiller for distilling salt water to be used to replenish deep cycle batteries used with solar panels. Currently, distilled water is hard to come by in the campo, so the locals simply let their batteries run dry or refill them with regular water. This greatly decreases the life of these expensive batteries.
2) A charcoal stove that effortlessly integrates both in size and form with the existing and widely used adobe wood stoves. The students found that there is interest in charcoal, but that the existing stoves the locals use are too big to effectively burn charcoal in.
3) The Mujeres Solares, a group the students visited in Nicaragua, are working on a 5W photovoltaic cell phone charger. These currently sell for $20, and they would like some assistance lowering the cost by finding an easier way to cut the photovoltaic cells, and using more readily accessible materials.
4) A low energy bag sealer for sealing in fresh juice to be stored or carried to market. A lot of fruit is wasted because during the harvesting season there is little market for it, but they currently have no way of storing it until off season when there is more of a market for it. Fresh juice can last up to 3 months if properly sealed and stored.
The students now have 4 weeks to prototype and test their products. Off we go!