In the midst of the sweltering temperatures of Panbang, Zhemgang, students face a common adversary – power fluctuations. The reliance on air conditioning and fans for a conducive learning environment becomes challenging as the persistent issue of power disruptions prevails. However, a beacon of innovation has emerged from Sonamthang Central School, addressing this predicament with an eco-friendly twist—the Solar Bamboo Fan project.
Crafting ten portable solar bamboo fans for a trial run in the market, the school aims to provide a convenient solution for students. These fans, ingeniously powered by a battery, charger, motor, and wire, can be easily placed on tables, ensuring an uninterrupted learning experience. The fan control is seamlessly managed through a switch connected to the battery.
Phub Lham, a teacher and focal point of the Upshift program at the school, elucidates that the project incorporates both solar and electrical charging options. “The solar panel ensures power even in low-light conditions and power blackouts,” she affirms.
What sets this initiative apart is the integration of bamboo as a key material, resonating with the abundance of bamboo in Panbang. Phub Lham expresses pride in maintaining the community’s traditional use of bamboo while embracing modern technology to create eco-friendly products.
Moreover, the project is designed with meticulous care to ensure it doesn’t harm the environment. Phub Lham emphasizes, “By using scientific laws and theories, we have connected all the components of our project with utmost safety.”
Excitement reverberates through the school as the fusion of cultural heritage with modern technology is poised to bring not only economic benefits to the community but also to showcase the beauty of Bhutanese culture and traditions on a global stage.
Aligned with His Majesty’s vision of making the youth nationally rooted and globally competent, the solar bamboo fan project is part of the skills development and innovation program. Phub Lham underlines its role in instilling a sense of responsibility, fostering team spirit, and encouraging volunteerism to address social problems.
The genesis of the solar bamboo fan project lies with a group of six students participating in the Upshift program of the education ministry. While not winning the National Innovation Challenge 2023, Leki Tobgay, a 12th-grade student involved, recognizes the project’s impact. “It enables all learners to explore new experiences and, in the end, take on the responsibility of contributing to our country’s goals.”
The project, aiming to inspire and encourage youth to enhance innovation in Bhutan, boasts attractive features, cleanliness, and affordability, fostering innovative development and sustainable resource use.
Despite not clinching the top spot in the national innovation challenge, positive comments and feedback from the audience have spurred the school to persist in their innovative endeavors.
Principal Rinzin Wangdi highlights that despite challenges like a lack of necessary training and raw materials, support from organizers and stakeholders has propelled the project forward.
In 2022, the education ministry, in collaboration with UNICEF Bhutan, Youth Development Fund, and Loden Foundation, introduced the Upshift program in 64 schools and 10 youth centers, aiming to equip young people with 21st-century skills, transferable skills, and advanced thinking abilities, contributing to the holistic development of Bhutanese youth.