The annual Global Children’s Design-a-thon brings together children in cities around the world to work in parallel to design and develop innovative concepts and build prototypes for one of the Sustainable Development Goals. This year, 12-year-old students Bipana Bhomjan, Dhanraj Syangtan, and Sujit Bhulun were selected as the winners from 242 other participating schools in the “Clean Energy and Climate” category for “Solar Halo,” their prototype of a solar-powered plow. Bipana, Dhanraj, and Sujit all attend Shree Kalidevi School in rural Lalitpur and were mentored in developing their prototype for the competition by their Teach For Nepal teachers Sudarshan Gautam and Ojashwi KC.
Dhanraj explained that they developed the idea behind Solar Halo because, “The traditional way of plowing a field is slow, difficult and painful. I don’t like it when farmers hit the animals while they are plowing.” In most villages across Nepal, animal plows are the only affordable means for farmers. “The alternative tractor is inaccessible and expensive in our area which as well harms the environment,” he added.
“I had seen solar panels in school on the roof of our teacher’s room and wondered how it worked,” Sujit shared. “We went to Sudarshan sir to ask about it and he helped explain the physics behind solar to motion energy. We took that concept and worked weeks to give it a shape. That is how this Solar Halo came into life. Ojashwi miss helped us with the presentation part.”
After winning the Global Design-a-thon, Bipana, Dhanraj, and Sujit are now working to further scale up their prototype and take it to other regional and national competitions. They also fine-tuned the prototype and built a new, larger model for the science fair in their school.
Beyond this, all three of the students also have big dreams for their future. Dhanaraj aspires to become an engineer and wants to build big buildings and bridges, Bipana hopes to follow Ojashwi’s path and become a teacher, and Sujit plans to become a successful carpenter and owners of a wood-carving shop after completing his bachelor's degree.
“This fair and award have certainly escalated their confidence level,” Sudarshan says of his students. He and Ojashwi agree that beyond tests and text books, it’s experiences like this that demonstrate what’s possible for every student, in major cities and remote villages alike.