Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Scientists harness energy of children to power classrooms

Okay, this doesn't actually have to do with Russia, but it is really cool. I found it on Russia Today, so it still counts, right? These scientists have developed a playground that transforms the energy children expend while playing into power for classrooms, well pumps, and beyond:

According to Karen Cavanagh, CEO of Saber Technical, the New York-based designer and manufacturer of the electrical generating playground systems, the equipment is fitted with alternators and gears which, when activated, are able to generate an electrical charge.

If the children are spinning a merry-go-round that’s intended to pump well water, the spinning motion of the machine will send power into an alternator which then transfers an electric current directly to a sump pump. From there the sump pump pushes the water through underground pipes into a holding tank, which is mounted on top of a tower. The clean water can then be used for drinking, for sanitation purposes or for irrigating arid land…

One project that’s slated for a school in Tanzania will literally change the lives of the 600-plus children who attend it. Presently the students of the Sinai School in Babati are forced to walk two miles everyday to access clean drinking water. They also conduct their studies in powerless classrooms that double as storerooms. After their new playground system is constructed, the children will not only enjoy pumped in clean drinking water, they’ll have enough stored electricity to power up their classrooms.

Energy generation causes lights on the equipment to flash; these lights are not only visually stimulating to children, but simultaneously reinforce their play and empower them to be more energy conscientious. And hey, if Tanzania can do it, Russia can too!:

But what’s good about kid-powered playgrounds is that they not only provide access to human basics like water and electric light, they are able to bridge the world’s cultural gap.

I always thought if we focused on youth the world would become better. Kids: bringing running water, electricity, and world peace to a playground near you. :-)

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