Kids have so much boundless energy, and they can play and run tirelessly for hours on end -- as any baffled parent can attest! Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming for us adults (maybe we're just jealous?), but that's what makes kids so amazing. We often joke, "If only we could bottle that energy up, maybe we could power the world!" Well, you can't quite bottle up a kid's energy or synthesize it in a lab, but there are some fun toys and games out there that use the kinetic energy of children at play to generate power or do work. Some of them are great humanitarian designs to aid people with less resources, and others are just good old fashioned fun. Check out our Top 6 Designs that harness the power of play!
The joy of spinning around on a merry-go-round is unparalleled, and when kids channel their playful energy they can really get one going! Some amazing designers came up with a way to harvest energy from a merry go round to pump water. PlayPumps International is an organization that installs merry-go-round water pumps at schools in Sub-Saharan Africa. These systems help provide the school with access to clean drinking water and the kids have a fun toy for their playground.
Eu Tteum Lee’s concept jump rope flashlight is more than just a way to get some good exercise, it’s also a way to generate and store some energy. As the user jumps ropes, kinetic energy is stored in batteries in the handles, which can then be used later as a flashlight. As the designers describe it, “Joyful jumping that makes your body and the nature happy.”
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and kids all over the globe play in parks, in parking lots and on dirt fields. For areas that lack great energy infrastructure, yet still have a need to charge up their cell phones or power their lights at night, this energy generating soccer ball is an ideal solution. The Soccket works by capturing kinetic energy through an inductive coil mechanism, and as the ball is batted about, it draws a magnet through a coil, creating current that is stored in a battery. Fifteen minutes of play stores enough power in the ball’s battery to light an LED light for 3 hours.
Dancing, tapping and bouncing all have the potential to create energy with a kinetic energy driven floor. POWERleap has developed “a flooring system that converts wasted energy from human foot traffic into electricity.” When little or big feet stomp on the POWERleap pad, piezoelectric technology and advanced circuitry design generate power, which can be used to run lights or music. In the future, whole flooring systems could be installed in high traffic areas to generate even more energy on a grander scale!
Little kids will happily expend a lot of energy making a rocking horse move, even if it stays in one place. The ROCCO, kinetic energy rocking horse, takes advantage of that forward-backward motion and stores that energy in the ears of the horse. The ears?! Yup, the each ear also happens to be a LED light that can be removed and used around the house as a flashlight or as a nightlight. ROCCO is also made of 100% post consumer recycled plastic and comes in a number of bright, fun colors.
The SWIRL is an awesome idea designed for developing nations as a combo washing machine, water barrel and toy all rolled into one. The round barrel and clothes are rolled to the water source, and then kids can play with the SWIRL. By rolling it about and batting it around, the clothes are agitated and cleaned. After the clothes are clean, the barrel can be filled with fresh water and rolled home. Easy to operate and fun to play with, the SWIRL is a literally a barrel of fun!