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Chase - Further Research - A Travois for the African People

If you have done a science fair project, or if you are a researcher, there’s always a required section entitled “Further Research” at the end of your report.

When I started working on the Refugee Travois this summer, I thought it would be hard to come up with something to put in my “Further Research section.” Well, I thought wrong. I definitely know what further research I want to do.

You see, when I did the strength and deflection testing of the possible materials for the travois frame, I determined that bamboo was the strongest and had the least deflection. (See photo below.)

So I planned on using the bamboo for the travois. I really liked this idea because bamboo is being commercially grown in Kenya, Ethiopia, and other African countries facing shortages of wood resources.

The problem is that after lots and lots of research into different ways to join bamboo poles, I could not find a workable joint that could be used in my collapsible Refugee Travois. The Refugee Travois has to be collapsible because it must be flat-shipped, ready for assembly, to the most-used refugee roads. The best way to make a collapsible bamboo travois would be to use lashing techniques to join the vertices of the frame. But I cannot assume that the refugees will know how to lash well.

So I had to choose the second-strongest material I tested – spruce. I was able to find a way to make joints for the spruce that would be easy for the refugees to assemble. I am happy with this choice for the Refugee Travois because the spruce also will work well in mass production.

But I’m still not willing to give up on the bamboo. That’s when I realized that my “Further Research” would be to build a bamboo version of the travois that could be copied in workshops throughout Africa for use by subsistence farmers, nomadic peoples, and villages that need to transport the sick or elderly to hospitals in larger towns. I have received comments from number of people who live in Africa (or used to live in Africa) saying that Africa really needs something like this.

By the way, Governor Perdue’s office called me yesterday to say that the Governor would like to meet me and see my Refugee Travois! So I’ll be going to her office on September 20th. This is a great honor!

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