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Inspiring belief in a better tomorrow. Equipping kids with the tools to build it.

Meaningful maker projects at Re:publica

Last year I met an inspiring person, Jay Cousins, one of the founders of ODC, first makerspace in Berlin who is now working for ICE Cairo.

We start talking about the fablabs, makerspaces and hackerspaces network in Africa and the need for meaningful maker projects. Jay is living now in Cairo and he was telling me how bad the air quality is there and then we start reading all these articles about number of deaths caused by poor air quality around the world (China, Mexico, Egypt, etc).

We decided to work on this and create a detective kit that could be build by makers from these countries. Like this they can monitor air quality and see exactly what kind of air pollution they are confronted with (CO2, dust, CO) so they can better target the solutions. 

 

Hackidemia soldering workshop at Fablab Berlin

Hackidemia soldering workshop at Fablab Berlin

Ever since we have been testing and experimenting a couple of prototypes and we decided to build our kit on a bourduino shield so makers can re-use the parts for many other projects and therefore reduce the cost.

Luckily enough Jay hosted the ‘Global Innovation Lounge’, a gathering of 20+ Maker hubs from all over the world: Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines and 19 hubs from all over Africa (Cameroon, iLab from LiberiaiHub from Kenya, etc). 

 

This was the perfect opportunity to build the Air quality kit with all these inspiring changemakers and to talk about the future of making with kids and young people in their countries. 

roup picture Global Innovation Lounge

roup picture Global Innovation Lounge

In the second day we presented our case studies and challenges from Brazil, Nigeria, Bulgaria, Cambodia and Romania and raised the question: how can we enable kids to solve the biggest challenges of their communities? The response was touching: all attendants, students, entrepreneurs, makers, parents came to express their desire to contribute.

n the third day we start making the kit so everyone learn to solder and assemble the boarduino. One of the teams actually managed to finish the kit in one hour! 

Detective kit board

Detective kit board

We even manage to send one kit to UK with Cory Doctorow who will hopefully assemble it together with his daughther and share the results with us. They are in a secret competition with Eric Hersman, founder AfriGadget, Ushahidi) who also took the challenge for his children. 

 

With Cory Doctorow at Re:publica 2013

With Cory Doctorow at Re:publica 2013

In the evening we all had dinner together and discovered common traditions between our countries and how much music is bringing us together. We also all realized we are all connectors that hope to enable local prosperity and empower communities.  

With teams from South Africa, Cameroon and Egypt

With teams from South Africa, Cameroon and Egypt

I really feel like the connections created with this occasion are just the beginning of a beautiful collaboration project so hopefully in the future we will enable more and more young people to build a better tomorrow for their local communities and create beautiful things!