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Indian dinner supports Nicaragua trip to install pedal-powered water pump

By From page A1 | April 11, 2013

Tim Brown, 17, a student at Da Vinci High School, explains how an old swimming pool pump will be attached to a bicycle to pump water up a hill in the rural community of Sabana Grande, Nicaragua. Students will travel to the village this summer to install their project. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

Da Vinci High School’s Team Blend is a service-oriented club that like to build gadgets that are muscle-powered. Previous projects include a manually powered blender — hence the club’s name.

Now they’re working on a bicycle-based pedal-powered water pump, which they intend to take to a rural town in Nicaragua this summer. To support the trip, Team Blend will hold a fundraising dinner — featuring Indian food by noted Davis chef Mary Philip — on Saturday at Davis United Methodist Church, 1620 Anderson Road.

The suggested donation is $30 for adults, $12 for children and youths. The doors open at 5:30 p.m.; RSVP by calling 530-220-2330.

“Currently, the people in that town — Sabana Grande — are taking water up a hill in buckets, and using the water to irrigate plants that they are growing,” said Noah Papagni, 15, a member of Team Blend. “Our goal is to come up with an easier way.”

The pedal-powered gizmo will be used to move water up a gentle slope that’s several thousand feet long, with an elevation gain of about 90 feet. They are using parts from an electric water pump, replacing the electrical portion of the mechanism with a pedal-driven system.

“The big design question is whether we want a stationary bike with the pump behind it — perhaps a recumbent bike, like the one at the pedal-powered carousel at the Davis Farmers Market,” said Timmy Brown, 16. “We understand that some of the women in Sabana Grande are not as comfortable straddling a bike seat” and might prefer the recumbent style.

“But right now,” Brown added, “we just want to make sure that the pump is going to move the water.”

Mariah Farris and Ariane Farris, 11th-grade twin sisters, are also Team Blend participants.

“I think what attracted me was the community service aspect,” Ariane said. “Mariah and I have worked with the migrant children’s summer school in Davis, and I thought it would be interesting to go and work with kids like that in Nicaragua.”

The Farris twins can’t manage this summer’s Team Blend trip, but are helping prepare this year’s project, and hope to go abroad on a Team Blend project next year.

Papagni, who has visited Nicaragua twice on service trips with a different club, has studied Spanish for several years in school. The Farris sisters came up through the Davis school district’s Spanish Immersion program, and Brown said he speaks some Spanish, but this will be his first trip to Nicaragua.

Other students in the project are Lauren Hartz,  Aaron Simon, Ari Amon, Shannon Mo, Tessa Nelson, Elsa Young, Katasha Dasilva and Emily Masiel. The teachers/advisers are Deb Bruns, Zach Powers and Rebekah Rottenberg.

Brown said that he’s enjoying the challenge of figuring out how much power the pump can generate, and how much water it can move.

“Initially, I didn’t want to do engineering, because both my parents are chemical engineers,” he said. “But now I realize this kind of project fits my interests and my personality. I’m thinking about majoring in some kind of engineering when I get to college.

“And,” Brown added with a smile, “I love the taste of Indian food!”

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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