Help Build a Solar Library

The SolarSPELL Build Day is a hands-on opportunity for people to help build digital library kits that provide educational information to resource-constrained locations around the world. After attending an overview presentation on SolarSPELL’s history and invention, visitors assist with assembling the SolarSPELL libraries, from drilling to soldering to Velcro-ing to gluing. No prior experience necessary! After the build, we’ll have a conversation about where and how the libraries built at Emerge will be used, and share reflections and ideas for the future of education and literacy. The SolarSPELL offline digital library was designed by ASU faculty and students, based on extensive interaction with people living in resource-constrained conditions. Dr. Laura Hosman leads an ongoing project-based course where students address new challenges each semester, based on needs identified by partners in the field. A goal of this class is to enable students to travel to the field, see their in-class work through to fruition in the “real world,” and experience how much more complex and different the challenges truly are for those they are serving and working with in the developing world, than they could have imagined from the classroom. The difficulties they identify feed back into the next semester’s challenges, and every aspect of the SolarSPELL digital library is continuously improving. There are currently 272 SolarSPELL libraries around the world reaching an estimated 20,000 people, mostly school-age children. SolarSPELL is currently being used in the Pacific Islands (Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and the Federated States of Micronesia) and East Africa (Rwanda, South Sudan, and Comoros). In 2019, SolarSPELL aims to expand its reach to include Arizona, working with Tonto Creek Camp, which offers outdoor STEM-centered education primarily to disadvantaged Phoenix-area youth. These digital libraries can provide children in some of the most disadvantaged circumstances in the world the skills to thrive in a technologically advanced and interconnected world. SolarSPELL Build Days like the one at Emerge provide Arizona volunteers an opportunity for hands-on library building, and give these people the ability to make a difference in the lives of children around the world.