What is the energy of a seesaw

Product design student Daniel Sheridan, 23, from Coventry, England, came up with an idea that could be used to supply schools in remote regions of Third World countries with electricity. His energy seesaw has just won several research awards in England.

SZ: Mr. Sheridan, how much electricity do two children generate?

Sheridan: One hour of rocking generates around seven hours of electricity for two energy-saving lamps. Optionally, an average laptop can run for 50 minutes with it. Granted, that's not very much, but I'm just trying to increase the number of batteries that can be connected.

SZ: What should be supplied with electricity in schools?

Sheridan: Light bulbs in the classrooms and cell phones. In this way, teachers can work much more effectively in areas with no power supply and do not have to drive to the next larger city just to charge their cell phones. In the future, the seesaw will also supply power to radios, computers and televisions. If schools in developing countries were to have such media at their disposal, they would be globally networked.

SZ: Children quickly lose interest in something. How are the unused rocking times bridged?

Sheridan: The generator is currently being removed and carried into the classroom. As soon as the children play again, it can be reconnected.

SZ: That sounds a bit awkward. Doesn't that bother you while playing?

Sheridan: No, the rocker also works without a generator. But my goal is a system in which the seesaw is connected underground to some batteries in the classroom. So nothing would have to be carried back and forth.

SZ: How did you come up with the idea of ​​using children to generate energy?

Sheridan: Last year I was a volunteer in Kenya, where I noticed the many children with this incredible energy. They kept running around! As in Europe, children in Africa like to play in playgrounds. Back in England, I started my master's thesis in product design on Africa's village communities. This is how the idea with the seesaw came about.

SZ: Isn't playing on the electrical box dangerous?

Sheridan: A wooden cover keeps the children away from the generator. In addition, a manufacturer of playground equipment has offered to check my design against European standards. There are no comparable precautions in Africa.

SZ: Are there other ways to generate electricity while playing?

Sheridan: It would be great to design entire playgrounds that power churches or meetinghouses. In addition, this method of generating energy is environmentally friendly. Once the patent rights have been clarified, I want to program a website where I can show pictures of the prototype test in order to attract interested parties.

SZ: Has anyone got in touch?

Sheridan: Yes, and many of those interested have suggested schools that the device might be a good fit for. But I would also like to contact large organizations that specialize in child development aid. There are many initiatives around the world trying to bring inexpensive computers to the developing world. Their biggest problem is the lack of electricity. There is a lot of potential here for my invention.

SZ: Has the seesaw ever been tested on site?

Sheridan: In April I presented it at a school in Uganda.

SZ: How did the children react? Sheridan: You love the seesaw! The teachers were amazed that a playground device can generate electricity. The children didn't care at all, they just jumped on it and started playing.