The Innovators of Tomorrow Are Already Collaborating Today
Published December 11, 2017
Belinda Baraka Boniphace, 17, runs an online market in her country of Tanzania, connecting sellers to buyers. She noticed that high temperatures in her area and a lack of cold storage options were significantly impacting the quality of produce available in her town of Dar es Salaam and nationwide. Vegetables would start to spoil 6-24 hours post-harvest.
Luckily, Belinda is part of The Junior Academy, which brings together teams of students from around the world to collaborate on solutions for real-world problems. Belinda told her fellow teammates about the problem her country was facing, and together they were inspired to do something about it.
The team developed a no-power fridge, Global Off-the-Grid Duralast Evaporative Cold Keepers (GO-DECK), made locally from landfill-bound materials such styrofoam that reduce temperatures and also regulates humidity during storage and transport. The food transport/storage system uses water instead of electricity to keep vegetables cool. They experimented with six different models improve upon their refrigeration system, inspired in part by Zeer pot designs. A Zeer pot, also known as a pot-in-pot refrigerator, is used in rural regions that have limited access to electricity. The technology works by cooling through evaporation.
After experimenting, the team landed on an end product that is made from 100 percent recycled materials and can be easily distributed to local farmers. The team believes the system has the potential to save millions of metric tons of food per year, all for a nominal cost.
Building upon the success of their first solution, Belinda and one of her teammates, Talar Terzian, are now developing an online market for farmers. They are expanding on the Go-Deck Unit to offer hand washing machines, and their latest water carrier, to local women in Tanzania.
“I wish to help local farmers and women take advantage of their agriculture and gain the best profit for their hard labor,” Belinda says.
However, Belinda has had to overcome many hurdles in order to accomplish her goal. She’s faced technical difficulties with internet and power outages due to weather and flooding in her area. Also, her local school system is limited and not able to support the research that Belinda wants to pursue. Therefore, Talar and her mother, who live in Gainsville, Fla., helped Belinda prepare for SAT exams and complete scholarship applications so that she can go to university. Belinda says she's been able to thrive because of the connections she’s made through The Junior Academy.
“By developing global connections like those I made with Talar in the US, I will be able to improve my business and help others,” Belinda adds.
This amazing endeavor is one of many innovative collaborations occurring all over the world through The Junior Academy and other Academy mentoring programs such as 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures, and STEM Scholars. Consider giving a year-end gift to support these programs, which allow young innovators to bring their brilliant ideas to life. Imagine what we can accomplish together in the next century by advancing science today!