Hey all! I am really excited to be a part of the amplify team as the Community Prototyper starting with the Refugee Education challenge. I am here to work together with all the teams and help them move their ideas a step closer to becoming a reality. With a background in Telecommunication engineering I forayed into the Education sector where I spearheaded a number of initiatives including a children's publication. My work took me across India and Bhutan and finally brought me to San Francisco where I completed my MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts.
The idea of bringing together Play and Life Skills for empowerment is a really powerful one. As a certified Life Skills Educator I have always tried to bring in more interactive ways of teaching life skills to both school going and also out of school children. I second Shane's views that you must check out Soccer Without Borders and I also recommend that you and your team take a look at EduSports (http://www.edusports.in/), which is a Bangalore (India) based organization that has been at the forefront of innovation in sports and education.
As the Community Prototyper for this challenge I will encourage you to take a look at our recent blog post that talks about using experience map and prototyping to test and validate ideas. You can find the blog here: https://openideo.com/blog/refugee-education-challenge-community-prototyper-creating-an-experience-map.
Congratulations on having brought your idea so far and for addressing some very critical needs of the refugee demographic. We are very happy to have you as a part of our community challenge and we love what you are doing. As the Community Champion Prototyper for the Refugee Education Challenge I wanted to throw a few thoughts out there that might help you further test and refine your idea.
I really like the fact that your idea is so innovative and that it has modular design. You have mentioned that your team would like to evaluate the existing prototypes and invent necessary add-ons which is the right strategy moving forward. I have found the Experience Map (http://ideo.pn/UX_Map) to be a useful tool in mapping out assumptions that can be tested using prototypes. I would encourage your team to use this and also look at Design Kit (http://www.designkit.org/methods) for prototyping ideas or create your own prototypes.
I see that Ideas Box works with Khan Academy to provide high quality educational content and I would encourage your team to take a look at LumenEd (http://lumened.org/), which could be another strategic partner. It is an innovative take on the age-old pen pal concept that incorporates the use of a standalone video projector to connect students in classrooms across the world.
It is a good example, which showcases that in today’s age of hyper connectedness there are still sections of the society that do not have access to technological innovations. And that in order for an idea to be truly impactful and scalable we need to co-create by involving the stakeholders in the process.
Hey Declan, this is some really great idea that you have presented and I wanted to commend you on the same. I have had the opportunity of being a part of a startup that built green walls and modular green roofs in India.
When we were designing systems we looked at a number of players in the market to study their systems and to understand what might and might not work. As you must be aware, there are hydroponic systems and then there are modular systems that use a growth medium instead to grow plants. Patrick Blanc, who is often considered as the father of vertical green walls, started hydroponic system. You can look up some of his work at http://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com/.
What Patrick uses is more for spatial design whereas your system seems to be designed towards growing food for consumption. I like the fact that you have taken into consideration a number of factors like modularity, space, sustainability etc. I feel that you will gain by looking at the work of this Indo-Canadian company called ELT Easy Green. They have a system very similar to what you have envisioned and it’s called a Green Curtain. You can look them up on http://eltindia.com/greencurtain.aspx and the main company website is http://www.eltlivingwalls.com/
This might help you when you would want to prototype your idea. When we were designing our system in India we tested our system first using polycarbonate sheets. Our aim was to test if the plants will survive and grow in our system. One of the key things to keep in mind when designing these systems is the inlet and outlet of water. Also, ensure that the pressure with which water is being pumped remains constant throughout. I wonder if you will need to use pressure controllers or will a simple pump immersed in the water tank work just as well.
I did not see you write about the material that you will be using to prototype your design. However, you can use PVC pipes to design the prototype and test if the plants are able to sustain in them or not. You might also want to explore the possibilities of storing and using rainwater and maybe even wastewater to water these plants. This will make your system become all the more sustainable.