Just How Many People Can You Collaborate With?

I have always felt that inclusive is a good way to go. At at early age I let my brother and sister tag along on adventures my friends and I were having, and babang… my brother and sister remain to this day my best of friends. The same goes for education. Adding people to the party may at times feel chaotic, but it also makes the experience richer.

Operation Rain or Shine, the project that Green School is moving along with due to the Zayed Future Energy Prize, is definitely testing the limits to collaborators (in a good way). We currently have an in house team of a dozen adults and an equal number of students, as well as links to multiple energy companies in Germany and Indonesia, and to top it all off a class of students in a Post Graduate institute in Germany. Each bring their own great ideas, as well as their own limitations to the table, and with each there is a golden learning opportunity for all involved. Here are a few of the stories I have experienced as the lead educator:

The GS Development Team and the Students

Through our Operation Rain or Shine primer class part of what the students learned was how to reach out and connect with companies who share interests or are in the field of this project. We had met many people, and there were several who were interested in working with us. However, we felt the next step must come from the students. One parent recommended leveraging the video skills and create video messages to potential collaborators. The kids got working quickly on videos that explained our project, and how others could help this project move forward. It became pretty obvious that we did not have the experience to do this on a professional level, and so that Green School development team was called in. Caterina and Kate spent considerable time working with students on how to craft a letter, ensuring that the message was clear and concise, provided an appealing offer, and was grammatically accurate. After they had helped us, the students reflected on the many aspects of writing a formal letter they had just learned in a very informal setting.

I liked doing the letter and reaching out to companies, and I enjoyed the fact that it was important and something that Green School will use. In this class, I felt like I was helping the school. — Eduardo DaRiva, Grade 9 Student

Dita — Our Technical Architect

This is the team on a skype call with TH Koln in Germany. Dita is our intern turned technical architect, as is the one in blue.

While the OROS team does have many people with expertise in the area of electrical engineering, we could not reliably count of the goodwill of parents to get us through the entire process. We have recently had one of our former interns join the OROS team as the technical architect, responsible for ensuring that our plans are both feasible and connected to the learning program. Dita shared her expertise by coming in to teach our students about the school’s MEP (Master Electrical Plan) which she drew up along with other OROS members. She is also collaborating with the University of Gadjah Mada in Jogjakarta to work on our control systems as part of her thesis.

TH Koln — Grad Student Collaborators from Afar

Beyond people working with our students and team directly on campus, we also have created virtual collaborations on the other side of the planet. A diverse group of graduate students from the Institute of Technology and Resource Management in the Tropics (ITT) connected with our students virtually over the past 6 weeks. We would exchange videos to go through a question and answer, using Slack as a means of communication. These students can help to steer our complex project in the right direction, and expand our horizons on what is possible.

I enjoyed the bits where we could have back and forth conversations with different people that are involved in the project. I definitely have a better understanding of Watts, and Wh, what they mean, how they are measured, and how it relates to our energy supply and demand and Green School. — Harry Rostrom, Grade 9 Student

Anne and Elias from Engineering Studio

Our good luck brought us into contact with Anne Meister, who runs a PV consultancy from Germany. While she normally advises on large scale operations, she offered to help us understand our current grid and create a scope for the future needs we may have. She and her partner Elias have just completed a 3 day workshop with key members of OROS, developing much clarity about what our needs and demands are. Through our workshop with them, we learned that we could be improving upon efficiency with some simple switches and landscaping modifications (trees and solar panels just don’t play well together). With their help, we found guidance in getting the numbers we needed to move forward in the OROS project.

Nick from Green Drive Assembly

When hearing about our weekly OROS meetings, a parent at Green School asked if he could join and share some exciting new technology his brother had created. What he brought was initially a challenge for the members of OROS to understand, but his persistence has flipped at least one person’s perspective. Using low flow rate water wheels, Nick and his brother hope to bring small scale hydro power to many areas of the world. He has offered to test one of these in Bali as part of OROS, as well as install one along some of the irrigation canals that line Bali. If the trials work out, we could be sitting on a revolutionary piece of technology, that will distribute power and bring even more relevance to the Subaks (water governance system) of the island.

Xavier who is Building an Earthbag Birthing Centre

inside the first Earthbag building in Bali

One of our very exciting opportunities is in building an Earthbag structure to house the Operation Rain or Shine Energy hub. We want to create a hybrid building, and back in January I met up with a man who was starting the first Earthbag building on Bali. Now it is nearly complete, and so we investigated if this could be applied to the energy hub. Turns out this would be an amazing way to get lots of kids involved in the building, and it will serve many of our purposes to boot! Xavier also makes a great collaborator; dedicated to his craft, open to new ideas, and excited to be a part of the OROS project…

…. and the list keeps on growing! What a neat project to involve so many people, and what a rich opportunity for our students to see all the different characters and faces of a larger collaborative effort.

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