You might be surprised to know that many students in Haiti have access to laptop computers. But here's what's not surprising: The students often have no way to charge them.
In 2008, the Haitian government received a donation of 10,000 laptops as part of the One Laptop Per Child program. Students began using them right away, but the earthquake in January 2010 destroyed much of the country’s power grid, leaving Haitians with only sporadic access to electrical power. About 95 percent of schools in Haiti don’t have a reliable source of electricity. With no way to recharge the devices, those once-handy laptops became bookends and shelf fixtures.
It was this very dilemma that Dr. Laura Hosman and her interdisciplinary class at Illinois Institute of Technology set out to correct. Hosman and the students in her class, Developing Technology to Transform Education Throughout Haiti, worked on a plan to provide solar power for Haitian schoolchildren, allowing them to charge their laptops and get back to work.
By installing simple DC current solar panels on top of the school, Hosman and her students had enough time and money to get 500 laptops up and running at one school in Lascahobas. Plans are already in the works for another trip. A professional engineers' group has approved a $10,000 grant for more solar laptop charging in Haiti, and as of this writing, Hosman's team is just under halfway towards the goal of raising $20,000 to fund the next project in Haiti.
Find out about the project and how you can help (even $10 can help power 850 laptops for one day) at the group's site on Global Giving.