Children’s Playtime Powers Cafeteria Microwave

April fool 2011 :-)

In an announcement that sent waves through the scientific community yesterday, researchers at the University of Kalamazoo revealed the successful development of a platform capable of capturing the kinetic energy released when a user walks, runs, or dances over a platform. The device is so efficient it can return human energy to the grid – most importantly, the technology appears to have the potential to significantly augment the nation’s energy supply in a clean, renewable and fun filled manner.

“Normally all that heat is just wasted energy,” Dr. Abel Rheingold panted from his basement lab, “but with what we have here, we can actually reclaim it. We’re talking perpetual motion machines, here,” he proclaimed as he leaped from one side of a blinking platform to the other.

As for practical applications for his device, Dr. Rheingold was all too eager to comply, “We’ve actually had a lot of luck with these in the local schools where we’ve been testing them out with children. They’re very fidgety, you know, so they make a good case study.”

Although the device itself might well be revolutionary, the science behind it as actually quite simple. Dr. Rheingold explained that with each footfall, “a sandwich of piezoelectric and highly conductive sheets produce microscopic eddy currents which are inductively coupled to a wide-band array of high-Q micro-strip amplifiers. Each amplifier is in turn connected to a quantum-limited rectification circuit which in turn charges the battery.” When asked to describe the process in more simple terms, he suggested that one could think of the system as behaving like “a bunch of strings,” or more precisely as “a carburetor that runs in reverse.”

Principal Micah Jackson of local Rightforest Elementary was also positive about the discovery’s applications. “It’s wonderful. We’ve set these platforms up in all the 5th grade classrooms, and the children are on them pretty much constantly throughout the school day. The energy we’re capturing is fully powering the microwave in the lunch room, meaning the children are actually providing all the energy we need for the entire lunch preparation process. They only time we had to switch off the battery was once when when Timmy had to go to the bathroom. With all the money we’re saving on utility bills, we have been able to stock the supply closet with enough graph paper to last the entire year. Plus, the children get recess back! This is the new wave of physical education.”

Child Psychologist Dr. Lisa Stratosphere said, “Normally the idea of putting such young children to work would give me pause, but they do seem a lot less hyper in the classroom. The health benefits are amazing, and helping out your community like that can really be a boost for the self esteem.”

“This is a huge improvement over those dance hall fads,” Dr. Rheingold said, alluding to the work of Dutch researchers on a sustainable dance floor. “Those guys are just inserting springs into the floor. My system actually captures the heat and transforms it back into usable energy, just like a solar thermal hot water heater.”

The creator of the springboard system’s only comment was to challenge Dr. Rheingold to a bout of Dance, Dance Revolution.

When asked for comment about how technologies like this would fit into the larger clean energy plan he announced yesterday, President Obama said “I’m all for utilizing the clean technologies we create here at home. Let’s get these platforms under every basketball court, scratch that, under every man woman and child in the country.”

Wise words indeed.

Jen Boynton

Jen Boynton is editor in chief of TriplePundit and editorial director at 3BL Media. With over 6 million annual readers, TriplePundit is the leading publication on sustainable business and the Triple Bottom Line. Prior to TriplePundit, Jen received an MBA in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School. In her work with TriplePundit she's helped clients from SAP to PwC to Fair Trade USA with their sustainability communications messaging. When she's not at work, she volunteers as a CASA -- court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. She enjoys losing fights with toddlers and eating toast scraps. She lives with her family in sunny San Diego.

One response

  1. this is what more companies and places should be investing in, a lot of kinetic energy is wasted everyday but it can be converted into working energy just by installing some simple pressure converting pads into floors and doors

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