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Summer School and Creative Workshop for Children

Every summer when there are holidays, parents are concerned about their children, particularly those who are not yet trapped in exam fever. The college students look for internship, summer school or other activities to build their skills. Some just want to have fun. Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions [SRISTI] and Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network [GIAN] are organizing several summer schools this year in collaboration with FAB LAB of National Innovation Foundation [NIF] at Grambharti, Amrapur.

SRISTI-UNICEF Summer Schools have been organized for last several years to develop devices for economically poor people through inclusive and open innovation. A palm leaf broom maker has to beat the leaf on a wooden plank with nails to tear the leaf into fibre. The drudgery involved in this act drains the energy of women who generally do this task. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of tribals have to crack mahua nut to get the seed out for oil extraction. The construction workers carry brick on their heads straining their necks and spines. Women in Saurashtra and many other regions get hurt while harvesting the fruits from cactus likeopuntia growing on the field bunds. Amla harvesting in the forest often involves cutting branches rather than just harvesting the fruits. These and many other problems have been mobilized by the Honey Bee Network to challenge the young people to design solution to get over the indifference of formal design and technology institutions. Eventually, every institution in the country will have to take the responsibility OF mapping the unmet social needs in their hinterland and address them through student projects and summer and winter schools. Like every initiative that Honey Bee Network has taken, it may take years before policy and institutional reforms follow. The structure of governance in any society cannot remain indifferent to the persistent problems of the disadvantaged people for too long.

This year, the summer schools will be organized at Grambharti campus, Amrapur, 15 km from Gandhinagar during 24 May to 13 June, 2017. The technology/engineering /design students are invited to address one or more of the four problem domains. The focus of the first school is to fabricate mechanical devices that address the problems of tribal farmers, forest dwellers, road side artisans and mechanics, agro and food processing etc. The second school will focus on developing electronic sensor based solutions for addressing various problems in health, education, agriculture and other need of poor people as well as differently abled communities. The third school aims at developing apps for monitoring on-farm/in-field trials of innovative technologies in agriculture, livestock, farm machinery, food, health, nutrition, etc. It should be possible for farmers to submit progress of the crops and incidence of specific pests and diseases through this app. They can share their own solutions or seek the wisdom from fellow farmers. The fourth summer school is being organized by GIAN to focus on windmills design for salt workers and other disadvantaged small farmers in coastal areas with high wind velocity and lot of sun light. Hybrid models of wind, solar and thermal gradient, etc., will be explored. Another subset of GIAN Summer School is involving ITI, polytechnic students, school dropouts, rural and urban youth to specifically address the problems of women to reduce drudgery in various farm, non-farm, post-harvest and other craft activities. Three weeks may appear too short a time to complete the need assessment, development of design, fabrication, iteration with the users to redesign after destroying first prototype and eventually move from proof of concept to the product development. We are hoping that students who apply to or will not leave the ideas half baked. The Honey Bee Network is committed to take these ideas forward with the help of volunteer fabricators, designers and professional tool room managers. If some other technical institutions want to organize summer schools in parallel with ours, we will welcome such distributed design and inclusive innovation campaign. Imagine if a million strong student community spends at least one summer out of their academic programme on addressing the unmet social needs, the country will not take too long to overcome persistent inertia in certain sectors and spaces.

There will be a children creativity workshop during 25 and 26 May at Amrapur involving children from villages and slums as well as others to learn to do research among the communities. Not even once, have we been disappointed in children creativity workshop. Every time, children have been able to sense and solve those problems which many of us missed noticing despite our claimed expertise and social sensitivity.

Please spread the message around so that most creative children and tech students from around the country learn to be impatient, fertilize their imagination and strengthen their problem solving and design skills.

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