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BloomBox Solar Learning Lab for girls in Dzaleka!

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Hi! I'm Sofie Roux, a Stanford University freshman studying Civil Engineering, Architectural Design, and Energy Systems from Vancouver, Canada and the Founder of Sparkly and SmART; a social enterprise. My dream is to support and enhance girls' access to education. For the past 13 years, I have explored potential solutions that help reduce fundamental barriers to girls receiving a quality education, including lack of access to clean water, lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene management, and lack of access to technology in the classroom. To learn more about my journey so far, please take a look at these TEDx talks that I had the privilege to give: What Is The Best School In the World? and Their Purpose Is My Purpose. Otherwise, please read on for a summary of the initiatives leading up to BloomBox 2.0 and our chance to scale it! ;)

Mostly through sales of my art, supplemented by in-kind support and donations, I have raised over $220,000 to date to fund a number of initiatives in this effort, including; setting up a computer lab, a sanitary pad-making machine, and a portable technology lab-in-a box in a busy Township of Cape Town, South Africa, as well as establishing three borehole water wells in rural Malawi, and most recently completing my most ambitious projects to date - the design and build of two solar-powered STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) learning labs in urban and rural settings of Malawi.

The BloomBox Learning Labs are state-of-the-art sustainable, bright, open-concept learning environments, created from repurposed shipping containers. They have been designed as free-standing, sustainable, off-grid spaces to enhance the infrastructure of high schools in Africa without access to electricity and technology, enabling students to engage in STEAM and allowing their interests in these areas to continue to bloom! Each Lab is fully powered by solar panels, contains 20 laptop computers and accompanying technology, and is enabled with wireless access to powerful learning resources (even when off-line) to complement and enhance STEAM curricula through a remote educational hotspot.

I designed the first BloomBox full classroom, BloomBox 1.0, and then built and tested it with my team in my backyard in Vancouver, Canada, before shipping it to and assembling it in Blantyre, Malawi, in the summer of 2021. Serving as the prototype Lab to over 400 students and staff, who have embraced and used it every day since its launch, we continue to learn from it at every step.

With endorsement from the Malawi Ministry of Education to scale the project to Malawi secondary schools across the country, I have continued to refine the design to meet the needs of specific locations. BloomBox 2.0, a solar kiosk version of the original BloomBox, was a design solution in response to the Ministry's request for a locally-built, low-maintenance, mobile, secure BloomBox, that would serve remote, rural communities, as an adjunct to existing classrooms. I am so excited to share that the first of its kind is up and running in Mulanje, in southern Malawi, serving over 2000 students as of this past July (2022)! By reducing the footprint and moving all production to Africa, we were also able to substantially reduce its cost. And so, we are ready to scale!

I have been asked to install the next BloomBox in Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Northern Malawi, the largest camp in the country, with over 50,000 displaced individuals from more than five neighboring countries. This BloomBox will serve over 1500 students in the camp as a prototype for this environment. The total estimated project cost for this BloomBox, which will be unveiled in Dzaleka in June of 2023 is $60,000. Through my art sales, I have so far raised $10,000 towards this goal. All proceeds will go directly into funding materials and technology purchases, the Lab build, and its transport and installation.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting my dream of helping other girls realize theirs!


  • Susan Barbour
    • $1,680 
    • 1 yr
  • Robert Lynch
    • $100 
    • 1 yr
  • Sharon Petrecca
    • $250 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • $250 
    • 1 yr
  • Wendy Frieman
    • $200 
    • 1 yr


Sofie Roux
Vancouver, BC

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