Across the globe, people are coming up with innovative ways to generate energy to aid their communities. Clean drinking water flows into a tank every time children play on a merry-go-round in a small town in South Africa. In Essam, Ghana, another merry-go-round built by BYU students generates battery-stored electricity that kids can take home at night.
Through a similar project called Kids Climb-It, a group of graduate students at Columbia University is aiming to educate future generations about energy and social interaction. The Columbia students, along with their professor, Alice Chun, are designing an playground to be built on a 16,000-square-foot lot in Manhattan. The structure will be made of a series of tripods covered in rubber balls and spanned by large climbing nets. Other so-called rubber donuts will be scattered throughout the playground floor for children to jump and climb on. The different components of the park will trigger various effects as children play, such as spraying water
or creating sounds, encouraging children to explore the entire structure. The group also plans to incorporate an energy stopwatch so kids can learn how much energy they can generate as they play.
Although generators positioned throughout the park create enough energy to light the fixtures up at night, the project’s purpose is more focused on education than creating energy. The project’s blog states, “As sustainable energy practices take on ever-increasing importance, Kids Climb-It aims to educate the next generation on the potential power each of us has to affect our surroundings while providing new and unparalleled experiences of fun and exercise.”