Daniel Sheridan, 23, found a way to turn children’s energy into electrical power with just a teeter or totter of a board. The student of Consumer Product Design at Coventry University in the UK invented a see-saw that generates electricity.
The idea came to Sheridan while volunteering in Kenya at a school. Riding the see-saw should generate enough electricity to light a classroom for an evening after only five to 10 minutes of use. While played on, it converts the action of the kids into electrical energy and is then transferred, using an underground cable, to a nearby classroom.
Sheridan recently won about $2,000 for the invention at the Coventry University’s Enterprise Festival, and he plans to use the money to start constructing the design with local supplies in Uganda. Once the product is introduced to the community, they will have the opportunity to help build and install it. Sheridan does not intend to make a profit from the product; instead, he just wants to help improve the atmosphere for those working or studying at the school where it will be installed.
Sheridan’s design is not the first to put playground equipment to practical use. The Gaviotas community invented a see-saw as well that provides enough energy to operate a water pump and wind-mill for their eco-village in Colombia. Another design is the PlayPump water system, which was made to work as a water pump and a merry-go-round for children to use.
More commercial, but just as environmentally friendly, Sony has recently made five different kinetic devices with different types of power sources. These five devices, including a video camera, digital camera, photo and video viewer, stereo headphones and solar battery can all be powered by cranking, pulling or spinning them. Or when a child is stuck in a place (like an airplane or train) where they cannot move the product, they can use the solar battery to power it.
By using children to create energy, the environment can look forward to a less damaging way to light up a school, operate a water pump or power a digital camera. And maybe kids can look forward to more recess.