Street Vendor Hackathon At IISC

10 Students from Inventure participated in the Reimagine Waste Street Vendor Hackathon at IISC!

Here is a summary of what they did:

  • The Hackathon was structured so that students visited recycling factories, segregation centres and met with street vendors on Day 1. On Day 2, they synthesized what they had learnt from Day 1’s field trips and began to brainstorm problems that needed solving. On Day 3, they had access to the IISC Hack Shop where they made prototypes of their proposed solutions and further refined their solutions. And on Day 4, they presented their solutions and were judged.
  • The solutions that our students proposed include:
    Two ways in which to make tape removal from plastics/cardboard packaging material easier. Current process is manual and time intensive.
    A device that can be used to automatically segregate waste. The device also doubles as a tabletop for street vendors.
    A device that segregates waste using electrostatic waves.
    Gloves designed to be more user friendly.

Of the 18 ideas in all that were presented, 8 made it to the semi-finals, which were held on Monday 14th August. 3 of our students presented their solutions.

A few highlights / learnings:

WE MAY BE YOUNG BUT WE CAN MAKE VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS: There was angst among the students that “we will be a liability to the teams we join because we are young, we don’t know as much as they do, and we aren’t there for the overnight hacking parts.” In fact, it turned out that our students were able to make good contributions and were valuable members of their teams. Inika worked on her team’s presentation using skills she had learnt at school and one of our parent volunteers commented that our students “spoke up and took over when the rest of the team was confused about answering some questions” during the final presentations.

SOLUTIONS COME FROM EXPERIENCING, ESPECIALLY FROM A DIVERSITY OF EXPERIENCES: Our field trips on Day 1 made an impression and were the basis for helping us figure out solutions. The depressed faces of the workers in the recycling factory went a long way in helping create the solutions e.g. tape removal devices, a better glove etc.

NETWORKING IS VALUABLE: Students realized that friends made on Day 1 ended up becoming good team mates. In addition, it is nice to be a part of the Inventure Community – at least a couple of the organizers also know Inventure well. (Shriram Bharatan of Better Carbon Living helps with our 5th grade trash trail and Priti Rao of Soil and Soul has helped with the forest-creation on Inventure campus a few years ago)

OUR MAKERSPACE IS COOL: Abhishek observed that the “makerspace at Inventure is comparable to the hack shop at IISC. In fact there are some things which Inventure has that IISC doesn’t have.” Kudos to Aaron – how wonderful that our facilities are in some ways comparable to the facilities of a premier research institution like IISC!