E-waste Repurposed for E-Learning & Youth Development

This post is part of Global Wire Associates’ Recharge E-Waste Campaign.

We speak a lot here about the growing problem of e-waste.  Designer and engineer Dhairya Dand also spends a great deal of his time thinking about e-waste as well while backpacking through Cambodia.

…I was around suburban Phnom Penh and came across enormous land fills stretching miles and miles.  These were piled with eWaste dumped from the developed world. What was more appalling, was that kids who should be in school were working here in the landfills. Most families had migrated from villages leaving behind agriculture to these landfills for a rich pay of a dollar a day…

So he thought what if he found a way to not only produce a possible solution to this major environmental problem, but to also make education more accessible and fun for those kids in the landfills.   Here the idea of Thinker Toys was born.  Dand takes the used computer parts in the landfills and turn them into fun, interactive toys.  So far Dand has made four prototypes using Arduino, an open-source electronics prototyping platform.

We like the Keyano, which turns a keyboard into a piano, with the keys musically mapped to the notes.  The RandoMath also uses a keyboard with a small LED screen connected to it and kids can do math puzzles.  The iPod-like Storynory plays recorded fun stories in your local language.  You can either plug it into a speaker for a collaborative storytelling experience or a headphone just to hear the stories.  Finally TV++ allows kids to connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse together to create a mini computer.  Also in development is the Mousepedia, a mouse converted into an audio encyclopedia.

Dand has already been invited to exhibit his work at ICTD 2012 and TEDx Phnom Penh.  The next step for Dand is to create an online community called Open Toys, which will open up the discussion for future toy designs and possible new ideas to e-waste activists, toy designers and engineers around the world.

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