Alexander Wilke

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Is it possible to make a playground the main energy source for a school? If not, why not? If so, help me do it!

In a nut shell; we could harvest children's play with various (and exciting!) equipment and use that electricity to power parts of a school. We could have swings, roundabouts, zipwires and other equipment to capture the energy. Donald Sadoway's batteries could store the energy and Eric Giler's technology could transmit the electrical energy! What is stopping us?

Watch this Prezi for a more visually compelling explanation (videos embedded).

  • May 1 2012: It seems to me that we could indeed use children's playgrounds to harness energy. The goal of making it the main energy source may, however, be unrealistic. Components like environmental controls take huge amounts of energy compared to things like lights and intercoms/bells etc, probably substantially more than children who are only using the equipment certain hours of the day can provide.
    The other trouble is from energy conservation: let's say we have a merry go round that converts rotational energy into electrical energy (which is how most generators work.) Every joule of electrical energy that is produced corresponds to a joule of kinetic energy being taken out of the system, which ultimately means the merry go round would move really slowly and be hard to push. Probably not too fun for the kids.
    This said, I'm certain that creativity can find ways around these problems. For example, the merry round could have sails on it that allow it to double as a wind generator (or something.) We could put durable solar panels on many of the flat surfaces that are exposed to a lot of radiation. (Remember how hot the slides always got in the sun? We could use that energy!)
    I think your project is interesting and difficult, but definitely worth putting more thought into.
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    Apr 29 2012: I have read about water pumps driven by the rotary action of a merry-go-round being used in remote African villages to extract water from wells.