Vol. 4 Num 85 Wed. August 20, 2003  

Tech Wiz
The pro-poor tech prodigy

With only two days to the National Science and Technology Week back in 1996 focussing on showcasing talents from Khulna division, biology teacher Benazir Sir stunned 12-year-old Ovi. He refused to put his name on the list citing that he was too young to get there. He thought it was impossible to submit a science project in just two days.

But the passion for science and a deadline overhead made him work overtime to submit an 'Interdependent Farm Habitat'. Ovi didn't disappoint his teacher. He won the third prize. And that was the beginning. Quazi Taif Sadat (Ovi), the teenage scientist, never missed a science fair, not until now.

Ovi gets along with his experimentation quite well, managing the odd hiccups. He also keeps himself updated on the science that was breaking newer grounds around him through books, CDs and the web.

"Books introduced me to the dazzling world of science," recalls Ovi. "I have a small library of my own. I have more then 1,800 books in my shelves." That itself is an achievement!

He keeps pace with the academic calendar, too. Passed SSC exams from Khulna Public College in 2001 and has appeared for the HSC from Dhaka Residential Model College this year.

My parents never stand in the way of my doing something off-track -- something out of syllabus. My father always gets me the gadgets and instruments for my experiments.

And he hasn't let them down so far, having snatched the Best Teenage Scientist Award in Khulna Division for his 'Kerosene Incubator II Project' in 2000. More recently, he clinched the first position at the Dhaka Residential Model College Annual Science Fair in 2002 for his 'Electricity from Polythene' project. Apart from these, Ovi also has many awards and certificates to his name. Not only in science, he has also proved his skills in quiz competitions, recitation, sports, debate etc.

Kerosene Incubator

Ovi's first spectacular invention was the 'Kerosene Incubator'. He wanted to develop a cost-effective hatching system for the poor. His first model 'Kerosene Incubator I' helped hens hatch 250-350 eggs in 21days and cost around Tk 1,500.

He used a kerosene lamp or 'kupi', a water-filled steel pipe, a thermometer and a platform for keeping the eggs. The incubator should be kept at a constant temperature of 95-97C. But the only drawback was that the eggs had to be rotated manually.

Then came 'Kerosene Incubator II' -- the upgraded version. It has a capacity of 800-1,000 eggs at the same time and the best thing about is that the wheels, which made the egg to rotate much easier, as each egg has to be rotated every four hours. This one costs around Tk 6,500. The 'Kerosene Incubator II' is also small in size and can be kept inside the house.

Electricity from Polythene

Polythene bags were banned last year and the move has done a world of good to our environment, our living. One of the problems that led to the ban is that polythene cannot be recycled. There are still thousands of tons of the eco-hostile substance dumped in the soil. They are difficult to be destroyed. Ovi thought about destroying them while getting something useful out of them. So came his idea, 'Electricity from polythene'.

Ovi's device regarding this theory has three sections: (i) Heat Chamber, (ii) Tunnel (1 and 2) and (iii) Turbine. First, two-thirds of the heat chamber should be filled with polythene. A coil is embedded in the heat chamber that gets as hot as 1000C. Polythene reacts with air when heated and produces many light gases. In one end of the chamber, there is a cone-shaped tunnel. The other end goes into a gas turbine with a dynamo. Tunnel-2 also goes into tunnel-1, both having valves, which makes the gas flow one way so the gas can be recycled. When the high pressure gas reaches the turbines it can produce electricity. Ovi couldn't test his experiment as yet, as it is dangerous and costly. But Ovi is pretty convinced that it will work someday and he is ready to give it a try.

Ovi is also interested in computers. He has his own website: Ovi wants to do higher studies in robotics and then help develop this technology in Bangladesh. Teenagers like Ovi can really make a difference provided they get private and public incentives.

Ovi is engrossed in experimentation in the laboratory. Photo: STAR