20081227-the-goals2The electric generator playground is expanding…next to a see-saw, schools can add a merry-go-round.

There are over 10,000 public schools in Ghana with no power source. Missionaries found that in Ghana, kids were so excited about playground equipment that fences had to keep them out while school was not in session.

20081231-playground-power-2The Empower Playgrounds merry-go-round is designed to produce 300 to 350 watts of electricity, enough to light three or four rooms from the same power that 60-pound children would expel climbing 10 feet of stairs in 35 seconds. Portable LED lights can be taken home after classes to relieve their families’ reliance on fuel and flame for light.

Empower Playgrounds installed their first six merry-go-rounds in Ghana this year, starting in June. This was built as a BYU engineering project involving five multi-disciplinary team members. Unrelated discovery from this press release: residents of Utah are called “Utahns”.

We will be watching closely for their next project slated for 2009: swings as electrical generators.

20081227-the-goals2A few designs have come forth that harness the seemingly boundless energy of children for community benefit. The first of this series is the Energee-Saw by PlayMade Energy, a company formed by Daniel Sheridan out of his awards-winning university research.

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The see-saw arrives as a DIY kit (low carbon footprint for delivery + community-building experience to set it up) and can power a classroom’s low-drain devices like LED lighting, radios, mobile phones, and low-power laptops for an entire evening after just 5-10 minutes of play.

Energee-Saw has a working prototype in Uganda and has been redesigned after receiving recognition and funding this year. The idea has gotten notice from India, where renewable energy could also be used. Daniel volunteered with schools in Kenya in 2007 and came up with the design based on “the positive aspects of the African community”.