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  • Daniel Radin

Student Essays about the Project and Kickstarter

Make Your Ideas Come True

by Melisa

Have you ever come up with a great idea, but didn’t know how to make it come true?

This year in Makerspace the 11th and 12th graders came up with the idea of doing a toilet. But this toilet is different from others. The toilet helps our beautiful lake Atitlan in Panajachel. We didn’t like the fact that all poop goes into the lake, so we had the idea to make a toilet that makes the poop compost and have a benefit for our environment. We had everything but we didn’t know how to start or how to find money to help us do this project.

Our teacher, Mr. Dan, found a website called Kickstarter. Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. Kickstarter helps your creative project come true. We thought of making a video to explain about the benefits of our project and why you should invest money in this project. Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date thousands of projects have come to reality thanks to the Kickstarter community. Over 10 million people from many different countries have backed projects through Kickstarter. Some of those projects come from influential artists like De La Soul and Marina Abramovic. Every filmmaker, designer, developer, and creator on Kickstarter has complete creative control over their work. Kickstarter also offers a vibrant community of backers.

We decided to use Kickstarter for our project and we hope that our idea will become a reality. We wanted to implement this project for the people of Panajachel because Panajachel is a place with many tourists and there are a lot of hotels and houses that are contaminating our poor lake Atitlan. We think that it is important to preserve our lake. It is one of the wonders of the world but it would not be one of the most beautiful places if all the people´s excrement goes to the lake. We decided to start making a composting toilet. A composting toilet is a dry toilet that use the natural process of decomposition and evaporation to recycle human waste. The small amount of remaining solid material is converted into a useful fertilizing soil by natural decomposition.

Our toilet would look different. We started out cutting the prototype parts from cardboard and we had fun with it. We are going to make the toilet look elegant. We hope that every Hotel in Panajachel will have one of these toilets and help our lake Atitlan and the river of Panajachel. If we have every hotel using this toilet in every room, much of the excrement will disappear and lake Atitlan will be less contaminated.

We started with this project by making the mixing bars (that’s me in the picture with Mr. Dan):

We hope that with Kickstarter our project will not be just an idea, but a reality. My class will work hard to implement this project for our community. Let’s hope that we can go and spread the idea to other places around the lake and help our poor lake that is dying. Let’s save lake Atitlan!

Pollution Issues on Lake Atitlan

by Yovani

Pollution on Lake Atitlan has become a great problem these last few years, it has affected the inhabitants around the lake as well as the tourists that come and visit this special place in Guatemala, but still our ecosystem is suffering the most. A main cause of this contamination is the inhabitants and the poor treatment of sewage that goes directly into the lake. This results in a decreasing rate of tourists in the towns near the lake, which means less income for the inhabitants.

One very bad bacteria living in our lake is called cyanobacteria. These bacteria are able to create their own energy source. Because they are bacteria they’re really small to see but usually they grow in groups big enough to see them. Cyanobacteria is growing every day more and more and it's too late to “cure” our lake just as the Vice-President of Pro Lago Atitlan said: "Reducing the contamination is like reducing the sugar intake for a person with diabetes. You can reduce what worsens diabetes, but you can't get rid of diabetes." The only thing we can do now is reducing the contamination we make before the bacteria worsen the situation. Over the years the local government and NGOs have tried to teach the people around the lake how to reduce the contamination by using “alternative” products. For example, they can start using soaps with lower levels of phosphate as well as increasing the use of natural fertilizers rather than chemical fertilizers. Another big help to the lake would be the water treatment plant if it worked for all of Panajachel. But it just works on half or even less.

If we really want to reduce pollution then it’s the duty of everyone, from the government down to the people, to pay attention to this problem and take action. At Panajachel Colegio Internacional (PCI) we as a whole class started building a composting toilet. I think this is a really good project for us to work on because we get to learn new things and work on new topics we never worked on before. One of these topics is the 3D printer. My classmates and I have never seen one before. But now that we are working on the toilet we also have the opportunity to not just use one but to build one for ourselves. Although it sounds fun, sometimes it's not easy to keep on with this task. I say this because sometimes there are some missing pieces of the 3D printer. But still it is fun to keep on building little pieces to make a complete 3D printer. One thing that I like about the printer project is the guide on the computer because it facilitates us in our work and helps us to avoid using incorrect pieces.

Making a cardboard model of the composting toilet is also not as easy as it sounds. Measuring the cardboard isn't an easy job. If there is an error in the measurements everything will go wrong. That's why we have to be really precise. This project includes many challenges but it also has a lot of benefits. We learn how to build some things, and use technology to our advantage to make our work easier.

This project sounds really interesting but we need to get to the point where we can contribute to our lake. It's not too far away but it's really hard to get there. As I mentioned before, we learn how to use technology to our advantage and there is this website called Kickstarter. I bet we can get many people to donate to this project because pollution is something we all have created and we all should take actions about it. It doesn't matter if we still need to do a lot of work, we are part of the few people who are really concerned about this problem and we can be an example for other people. I hope to see a change on Lake Atitlan but I'm also hoping to see a change in the inhabitants’ way of living.

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