Outpostz Lap Desks For Kenya School Kids

Posted Feb. 18th, 2015 by Daniel J. Cox

Outpostz Lap Desks For Kenya School Kids. NE Explorer Margie Carroll recently shared with us her newest idea for helping teachers to educate children around the world. Margie has been taking pictures and inventing unique products for many years and recently she surprised us with her newest invention, the Outpostz Lap Desk.

The kids were really excited about this new learning tool called the Outpostz Lap Desk. Kenya

The kids were really excited about this new learning tool called the Outpostz Lap Desk. Kenya. Lumix LX100

The Outpostz Lap Desk is designed as a lightweight, colorful, and fun way to give children a sturdy platform for schoolwork when desks are unavailable.

A young Samburu village boy tests out the new Outpostz Lap Desk. Kenya

A young Samburu village boy tests out the new Outpostz Lap Desk. Kenya. Lumix LX100

How is it that something so simple, the need for a solid surface for writing, could be so completely overlooked all around the world? It all comes back to finances. Everywhere we travel, including Kenya, Ecuador, Vietnam, and many other countries, we often see children doing their studies, sitting on a floor or the ground with papers in their laps, pens and pencils pressing against the soft flesh of their thighs. We’ve all done it at some point in our lives, used our lap to write on. Yea, exactly – not a good way to get quality pen to paper. The problem is none of these poor countries have the money, or least won’t spend the money, on the tools kids need to learn. In this case a simple desk. Simple to us but expensive for them.

A young Samburu girl shows how easy it is to carry her new Outpostz Lap Desk to and from school. Kenya

A young Samburu boy shows how easy it is to carry his new Outpostz Lap Desk to and from school, Kenya. Lumix FZ1000

The answer for some could be Margie’s new invention she has named the Outpostz Lap Desk. It’s an elementary idea (no pun intended:-) that consists of corrugated plastic and comes in red, blue, yellow, and other colors that help brighten the mood of what is typically a dark, dreary, dusty, musty, earthen-floored classroom. It has a colorful string that’s attached from one side to the other, giving the Outpostz an easy way to be slung over the shoulder.

Rose Lisamba with her two teaching colleagues and several children from their Samburu village school. Kenya

Rose Lisamba with her two teaching colleagues and several children from their Samburu village school. Better be careful of that teacher on the right kids.. She looks like one I had in school and she was all business. Kenya. Lumix LX100

The top spine is made into a ruler and one of the corrugated holes on the side holds a colorful pencil. One third of the way down from the top is a slit running the length of the plastic from left to right. The slit isn’t cut all the way through otherwise the top third would be completely removed.

A closeup of the details of the Outpostz Lap Desk. Photo by Margie Carroll.

A closeup of the details of the Outpostz Lap Desk. Photo by Margie Carroll.

No, this slit is halfway through the plastic, just enough to allow the top third of the Outpostz to be bent slightly backwards which opens the slit enough to accept the top edge of a piece of paper. Releasing the top closes the slit, locking the paper in to place like the jaws of an inexpensive, but effective clipboard.

While in Samburu, Kenya, I had a chance to show these new learning tools to teachers in a local village. When I first met Rose Lisamba, I asked her if her school had any desks and she was proud to say “yes.” She was quite thrilled actually and her response made me think, “Well, maybe there really won’t be a need for this school.”

I get in on a shot with the teachers and the kids. "Hey you guys, your'e supposed to be looking at the camera".  The broken desk I mention in the text is in the foreground. Kenya

I get in on a shot with the teachers and the kids. “Hey you guys, you’re supposed to be looking at the camera.” The broken desk I mention in the text is in the foreground. Kenya Lumix LX100

But when I arrived to see the school room for myself, there in the front was a seriously broken, beat up, plastic table which most from our country would normally see being sold as a toy from Walmart. Never would we expect to see 30+ students using the broken plastic top to do their work from. So even though Rose was excited to assure me they had desks, in reality they had almost nothing.

We gave Rose five Outpostz Lap Desks for her students with instructions to let us know if there were any further improvements that could be made. She assured us there weren’t any changes needed but we parted with an agreement to let us know over time.

Rose with her school kids in the little town outside of Samburu National Reserve. Kenya.

Rose with her school kids in the little town outside of Samburu National Reserve, Kenya. Lumix FZ1000

The goal for this product is to get it to every child in every school who could use one. That’s going to be a challenge. Even more challenging is helping Margie figure out how to get the Outpostz manufactured as cheaply as possible. If there is anyone out there who could help us find the right people to make these things happen, we would love to hear from you. Maybe you have an educational foundation or an NGO that would be interested in helping out. Whatever ideas you have we would love to hear from you.

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  1. Diane MinickOn Feb. 18th, 2015

    Outpostz are the best! We have sent them to Peru for the children in the Andes. Margie is a creative, inventive lady with her heart in the right place. I look forward to these lap desks spreading throughout the world, wherever there are children in need.

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