Innovation That Matters

Joul consists of wooden blocks that act as energy generation, storage or usage modules | Photo source Core 77/Joul

Toy wooden cubes teach children about energy sustainability


A team of students has won an award for creating toy blocks that teach children about energy sustainability

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Spotted: The Student Runner Up award in this year’s Core 77 Design Awards has gone to three students at the Umeå Institute of Design. The student team, consisting of Anna Hing, Fabian Böttcher, Soh Heum Hwang, have designed a toy that lets children explore energy sustainability in a creative way.

The toy, named Joul, consists of small wooden blocks, each of which is part of the energy cycle – generation, storage or usage. The generation cubes include blocks topped by solar panels, miniature wind turbines and hand cranks. The storage cubes are batteries which can be charged by the generation cubes. Finally, there are usage cubes, lights and speakers powered from the storage cubes. 

Specially-designed sounds also help children link different energy sources. For example, the sounds of a marimba indicate the connection between different blocks, and as storage blocks are stacked up to add more energy, different tones add up and create harmonies. 

The blocks are also accompanied by a mobile interface, which indicates how much energy is being created. According to the entry notes, “Joul allows children to explore the energy cycle in a broader context and helps them understand the general concept of sustainability from an early age on. By using what they produced themselves, children build the foundations for sustainable thinking indirectly through play.”

At Springwise, we have seen a number of innovations that aim to teach as well as entertain. Some of the exciting ideas we have recently covered include blocks that teach coding and a 3D printer designed for children.

Written By: Lisa Magloff

Explore more: Education Innovations | Sustainability Innovations



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