playpumps illustrates the need to consider as many long-term reactions to a project as possible. for example, i doubt the originators thought that children would start asking for money in return for turning the pump. the idea has turned into a poster-child for a well-intentioned idea gone wrong for various reasons. (the website below was the first item in a google news search.)
that said, i agree with the overarching idea that solutions to problems don't necessarily need to be filled with gadgets and technology. sometimes less (when done cleverly) can be better.
nothing specifically i had in mind, but that doesn't mean i couldn't brainstorm some ideas with you.
if you were to receive support for this project (whether through ideo or another organization), perhaps it'd be work looking into this. it seems like you're interested but have some reservations due to potential barriers. it could be very useful to set aside from funding to test how siblings could contribute to learning. there are many families worldwide that have many, many children, and their ages can span greater than 10 years.
let me know how things go. i'll keep on eye on this project.
hey chris, this sounds awesome. love the examples. my thought: would it also make sense to have sibling activities, too? maybe parents have to work quite a bit from time to time, so a sibling may have more time. they could also help teach their younger brothers/sisters.