Agastya’s Lab-on-a-Bike represents an innovative initiative that combines the compactness, portability, and modularity of the Lab in a Box (LIB) with the mobility of a motorbike, driven by one of Agastya’s teachers. The concept extends Agastya’s reach into areas where the mobile labs cannot go. It also removes the hierarchy between instructor and driver in the minds of the villagers.
India’s Google Impact Challenge Awards of 2013 set the creative minds at the Agastya International Foundation churning. The problem posed to Indian nonprofits invited to participate: How would they use technology to transform lives? The result was Agastya’s award-winning TechLaBike, selected as the Judges’ Choice.
The TechLaBike takes the Lab-on-a-Bike to the next level. The instructor delivers science education and digital literacy to the doorstep of remote village schools. Children who have never seen a computer learn to use a mouse to play simple science games, watch language-neutral videos, participate in multimedia conferencing, and take quizzes.
In these areas, it is very important to provide the teachers with guidance for using the LIB. Agastya’s instructor carries a laptop and portable internet connection, making it possible to show the local teachers instructional videos on using the LIB to augment the science curriculum, and bring lessons to life for their students. An online community is available to teachers in the local languages where the program exists. The teachers can ask questions and post comments, learning together rather than in isolation.
It is estimated that, in one year, each TechLaBike can result in 7,200 high impact interactions. The more schools that are reached, the more the costs of the program are reduced, since all are able to share the equipment and digital resources. This innovative solution won Agastya Rs. 3 Crore ($500,000) and ten Nexus tablets in the 2013 Google Impact Challenge.