This Delhi teen turns scrap to mini cooler

Boy wonder: Mohammad Hassan (13) with his mini cooler and other inventions at a learning centre run by non-government organisation Chintan in New Delhi on Friday.

Boy wonder: Mohammad Hassan (13) with his mini cooler and other inventions at a learning centre run by non-government organisation Chintan in New Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Hassan built a mini cooler using scrap since his family could not afford one

When 13-year-old Mohammad Hassan asked his father for a cooler to beat the scorching Delhi heat three months ago, he was told that his family of ragpickers could not afford one. So Hassan built one.

Months of hard work, and permutations and combinations later, he was finally able to gift his father a mini cooler made from waste he collected from Bhalswa landfill.


Hassan’s mini cooler is battery-powered. The body of this portable cooler is made from cardboard, the grill from wooden sticks, wings from plastic bottles fixed to a motor and the regulator knob from a bottle cap.

“My father said if I study hard and my interest in science continues, I will one day pull us out of poverty. Now I want to make a full-size cooler so that my mother doesn’t sweat in the kitchen and my father can relax after he comes home from work,” said the science genius.

Love for science

Hassan, who lives in a one-room accommodation in a small neighbourhood of ragpickers near Bhalswa landfill with his family of five, developed a love for science from an early age. However, it was last year that he started putting his knowledge to practical use.

Interestingly, Hassan stumbled upon the idea to build a mini cooler while watching a cartoon show on TV with his friends.

“Doremon created a fan using discarded material and it blew away the villains. I decided to try it out but failed. However, I kept at it and it took multiple attempts to come up with the final model,” added Hassan, while surrounded by his classmates at the learning centre run by non-government organisation Chintan.

Besides the mini cooler, Hassan has also built mini models of motorboats using plastic bottles, pencils and batteries; an electronic trash collecting car made from the box mobile phones are packaged in and a discarded battery-operated car; and a mobile charger. His next project — a mini airplane — is also underway.

His teachers at the learning centre said it is an achievement for a child as young as Hassan to develop interest in studies, let alone invent things from scrap, as families here generally push children into rag-picking from an early age since it adds to their income and helps put food to the table.

Matter of survival

“The people here are extremely poor and it is mainly the children who run up the waste hill to collect plastic and metal, while their parents separate and sell them. There is an entire ecosystem which survives on the landfill. Their immediate goal is survival, and education would mean sparing a pair of hands that can feed them,” said Chitra Mukherjee, the head of programmes (operations) at Chintan.

The Class IX student dreams of becoming a mechanical engineer and building energy-efficient devices, which will make life easier for waste pickers.

“My mother is my biggest fan. She keeps encouraging me to build new things while I sit idle. My parents could not study. My sister completed Class XII and my brother could only complete Class X. I want to study more and bring about a change in society,” said the teenager.

Apart from fixing and building things, Hassan likes to dance and idolises actor Govinda.

“My focus, however, is on studies. I want to make my family and teachers proud,” he said.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:56:55 AM |

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