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Empower Playgrounds

Children learn science and gain the vital electricity they need in rural Ghana by playing on electricity-generating merry go rounds.

What is the need?

Many areas in rural Ghana do not have access to electricity. Amongst other problems, lack of electricity means students in these areas are unable to study in the evening after it gets dark. Most students spend daylight hours at school and then assist with chores and the family's economic activities in the afternoon, so the evening is often their only time to study.

Students must take a competitive entrance exam to be admitted into secondary school, which would allow them to further enhance their education and help their families, but students in rural areas without electricity are at a disadvantage when preparing for this next step. This causes many children's education to be cut short, perpetuating the poverty cycle.

How does this innovation address it?

Empower Playgrounds create merry-go-rounds that use the children's energy to charge a battery, which in turn powers a smart lantern. The smart lantern has a computer chip inside that manages both the charging of the custom battery pack and the operation of the special LED lights. Lighting equivalent to a 25 watt light bulb for over 40 hours is provided by each recharge, allowing students to study after dark. 

The children are split into lantern groups and one student is assigned as a lantern leader. That lantern leader is responsible for bringing the lantern back to school to charge after it has been used. 

The schools involved not only benefit from EPI’s electricity-generating play equipment, but also from a custom science education module. This helps to enhance the education that rural students receive by using the play equipment as a living lab, teaching students hands-on engineering and technology.

Good to know:

  • There are 12,000 primary schools in Ghana but fewer than 500 secondary schools. This means that competition for Ghanaian children to move beyond elementary school is steep.  

  • Since 2007, Empower Playgrounds Inc has installed 40 merry-go-rounds at schools all over Ghana, West Africa. That's 3.5 million hours of light generated and used, and 15,000 children reached.

Contact Information

Organization: Empower Playgrounds Inc.

Blog: www.empowerplaygrounds.org

Website: www.empowerplaygrounds.org

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