How a bright idea could bring light to the developing world
Imagine a world without electric light. What would it be like? What problems would you and your community face? What solutions might you come up with?
These are the opening questions for my 13- and 14-year-old design and technology students at the start of a six-week product studies programme. The aim is to combine craft and skill-building with developing a better understanding of wider design issues, in particular the challenges faced by designers in some of the poorer developing nations.
First, I present my students with a range of structured experiences and conversations that give them an idea of how designers approach and solve problems.
Designers have to understand the issue, so I place students in a darkened room and ask them to read by candlelight or with a storm lantern. I then get them to measure the light levels using an app on the class iPads.
Next, it's time to expand the research. Pupils read and discuss newspaper articles about the infrastructure in developing countries, the social situation and the particular challenges that those trying to solve the light issue may encounter. They also watch videos from charity SolarAid, which aims to tackle poverty and global warming by creating a sustained market for solar lights. (For resources from SolarAid's education team, visit www.tesconnect.comSunnySchools.)
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