Spyglass Design Feasibility for Economic and Educational Advancement in Lesoit, Tanzania

Access to education for young girls is limited in rural communities and in some third world countries. This is generally true due to education expenses being too high for low income households as well as cultural values placing young boys as a priority. Young girls are more likely to be raised at home with chores in place of education and this has an impact on career opportunities that are available to them.

In a specific case, the Maasai women of Lesoit Village in Tanzania are faced with these same cultural, academic, and economic barriers that prevent them from entering the workforce. This challenge arises from household expectations of women being the providers of wood, water, meals, and care for the elderly. Young girls are much more likely to drop out of school to either help the family earn money or to help with household chores. This collectively depletes time and energy for involvement beyond the home, which makes education and pursuit of a career very difficult.

The proposed solution to these barriers is the creation of locally made scientific tools such as a spyglass for observation of wildlife. This solution is meant to introduce low cost classroom tools that can inspire interest in professional STEM fields, especially if the costs are low enough be accessible for low income households. The main design under consideration is a 3D printed lens mount which can adjust for different spyglass housing options. The usage of local gourds and upcycled waste products like bottles, cartons, and cans can offer a low cost housing that can benefit the environment through a reduction of local waste.

The flexible design of the lens mount offers artistic opportunities for the housing to create desirable souvenirs for the local tourist industry. The option of providing locally made products that feature handmade patterns is a business opportunity that can have the flexibility of working around the busy lives of interested women.

The usage of 3D printing technology will offer skilled labor opportunities and possibly even educational workshop spaces for local students and community members. This technology will introduce a need for skills in CAD software, operation of manufacturing tools, and opportunities for programming projects. In the case of Lesoit Village, these resources will likely need to be set up in the neighboring city of Arusha for security and accessibility considerations for resources such as power, raw materials, and shipping advantages.

With products like the spyglass being made available in local schools, there is an opportunity to generate interest in STEM fields, especially when introduced in tandem with design challenges. Hands on involvement in a low budget design projects and rapid prototyping has a strong impact in generating interest for STEM fields. A small example of interactive education was conducted to engage a local group of students in rapid prototyping to demonstrate the possibility of a similar implementation in small group settings. The simulation was successful in generating quick ideas on improvements for a project like our own.

Additional benefits that come from introducing a small business operation in a small town if the opportunities for locals to receive hands on training on a variety of transferable business skills. Topics that can be explored in this setting include economics, supply chain management, and accounting.

Future considerations for this project include local applications in the city of Flagstaff as well developments of quicker manufacturing and additional design features.