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sally_in_wales

Child powered generators

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7301354.stm

Thought this was a great idea, I've seen lots of variations on the 'make power by having something work a piston or other gadget' but given kids boundless energy in the school playground this one looks really cunning.
gnome

also, as children are quite small, they are ideal for working in cramped spaces - such as mines, or chimneys. you can buy them quite cheap in eastern europe i believe.
Andy B

What rubbish, kids just dont move enough. Now a springer spaniel power one would be spot on!
Jamanda

I'm always a bit uneasy about these schemes. It's a fine idea as long as it is genuinely play activity that is being used to power the devices, but as soon as a child is told they have to power it, it ceases to be play and becomes child labour.

Also anyone who has ever used a dynamo on their bike knows you have to put in a fair bit of work to overcome the resistance of the generator to create any worthwhile amount of electricity. I wonder how much a skinny kid could actually produce.
Bebo

Jamanda wrote:
I wonder how much a skinny kid could actually produce.


Hmmm, I have an idea. Market it as a fat camp, send a few chubby western kids over to use it and charge them for the privilege. They get free electricity and cash and the plumpsters lose weight. Win-win situation.

PS Don't think I'm being fattist, I'm a lard arse myself and would benefit from a similar scheme.
sally_in_wales

I read it just that one could put these into playground equipment and let the kids use it when it suited them from there. I didnt see any implication that children would be compelled to spend prescribed amounts of time on it Confused


When I think about how much effort we put into making the roundabout go as fast as possible when we were kids, finding a way to harvest that potential energy as it goes round seems perfectly sensible to me, not some dastardly plan to put children back in the mines
Jamanda

sally_in_wales wrote:
I read it just that one could put these into playground equipment and let the kids use it when it suited them from there. I didnt see any implication that children would be compelled to spend prescribed amounts of time on it Confused


When I think about how much effort we put into making the roundabout go as fast as possible when we were kids, finding a way to harvest that potential energy as it goes round seems perfectly sensible to me, not some dastardly plan to put children back in the mines


Yes - I appreciate that - but I expect you played lots of other games too. It would be no fun to have to play on one thing every day in order to generate electricity, and I reckon the supply would be a bit haphazard if it relied on the children wanting to play particular game today.

I think it's a lovely idea in theory, and I'm sure the designers have the purest motives, I just get a little concerned about the practicalities.
Brandon

sally_in_wales wrote:


When I think about how much effort we put into making the roundabout go as fast as possible when we were kids,


yes, all that energy it took, and you were not having to overcome an electrical load.

Quote:
finding a way to harvest that potential energy as it goes round seems perfectly sensible to me


Laudable, but you get nout for free, you cannot make energy.[/quote]
Sherbs

I think we should have these in every playground in the country!

I wonder how many parents have wondered just how their kids seem to have such endlessly renewed energy.
Jamanda

These things would be hard work - not like a free running swing or round-a-bout. I don't think they'd be much fun at all.
gnome

from what i have seen of children in the more deprived parts of Africa - where this idea is aimed at - children do not seem to be full of energy - they look tired and malnourished in many cases. it would be very naive to believe that children will not be exploited by this invention. how long before these see-saws are being used to power electric sewing machines in a sweat shop producing disney T-shirts?
Jamanda

gnome wrote:
from what i have seen of children in the more deprived parts of Africa - where this idea is aimed at - children do not seem to be full of energy - they look tired and malnourished in many cases. it would be very naive to believe that children will not be exploited by this invention. how long before these see-saws are being used to power electric sewing machines in a sweat shop producing disney T-shirts?


I'm afraid I agree.
dpack

if it needs 4 fit cyclocrusties to power a 1 kva sound system (and they need replacing every 15 mins or so )might it make more sense to help with a practical and cheap genny such as a straw / dung /sticks fuelled steam engine system ?
gnome

i would have thought swings would offer far greater potential. a swing is essentially a pendulum which requires very little effort to produce great movement - because the energy is coming from gravity - it is the weight of the child that is provinding the momentum, not work from the child.

i can see it has potential, but i'm certain it will be abused. the report says ten minutes of use will provide enough electricity to light a classroom for an evening - but what if the owner decides they want more electricity? if they have a rota system, they can have two children using it at all times 24 - 7. of course, that will disrupt their learning - they will miss part of their lessons. how many of the see saws will a school be able to afford? will they be able to resist the temptation to sell them or sell the power they generate? i don't mean to make sweeping statements, but we know from documentaries and news reports that corruption is rife in third world countries, and the idea of using children to generate power makes me feel uneasy. We already have the technology to build efficient solar collectors, so why not just put solar panels on the roof of the school? that would provide them with far more electricity.
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