Solar panels on the roof and windmills in the backyard — individual families using their property to harness energy, contribute to the grid, and reduce their own energy bills is all the rage (in some areas more than others). But what if we could harness our children’s play as a renewable energy source? Some might call this child labor, but it is just one idea coming out of IBM’s “People Power” concept that involves harnessing the energy from the thing we do and using it to create renewable energy.
At public playgrounds, in school yards, and in backyards around the world, children use their energy to jump on trampolines, to push swings back and forth, and to make merry go rounds go around, and around, and around.
- Imagine using the energy your kids expend in the backyard to help reduce your energy bill.
- Imagine harnessing the energy from public playgrounds and using the funds to help reduce municipal taxes and improve public spaces.
- Imagine schools using the energy expended on their playgrounds to buy more books or more sports equipment.
At the moment, there is a big battle to get kids outside and public health authorities say our children aren’t moving enough. There is too little outdoor play time during the school day and children spend too much time on video games and television instead of outdoor free play during their free time. There is an obvious public health motive for getting kids outside more, but that doesn’t seem to be working.
If we added sustainable energy and financial incentives, would that get kids outside? Would it make it more worthwhile for parents, teachers, and public officials to prioritize play spaces and play time?
Photo credit: Are you my rik? on flickr