Since late May, a further discovery area has been made available to children visiting Vienna's Tiergarten Schönbrunn zoo: The WaterPowerPlayground is a playful way of teaching children the fascination of the element of water and the significance of hydropower for producing energy. By using their own muscular strength children can even generate electricity all by themselves. Today, Friday, the WaterPowerPlayground was officially opened.
The WaterPowerPlayground, covering 200 sq m, was erected in the area in front of the Rain Forest House near Gottfried Kumpf's "Frog King" and took one month to be completed. Salzburg-based playground equipment producer Moser designed and erected the facility. The costs amount to a total of 80,000 euros, 50.000 euros of which are being borne by Verbund, Austria's leading electricity company.
The “source” of the playground is the lift pump. Here water is lifted out of an underground reservoir by muscular strength and poured into a basin. By applying a switch you can make the water flow off in two different directions.
If the water is made to flow in one direction, it first enters a basin. From there an Archimedes' screw (a spiral pump) lifts the water into a channel from where it flows through a turbine situated below it. A special display connected to a voltmeter shows the little hydropower engineers how much electricity they are currently producing.
Water flowing in the other direction passes over a paddle wheel that also displays the generated electricity. Finally, the water disappears into the "Frog King" drinking fountain and is returned to the underground reservoir.
Verbund Chairman of the Board Michael Pistauer opened the WaterPowerPlayground together with children of the kindergarten Marxergasse in Vienna's third district. Pistauer: "Austria's hydroelectric power is becoming more and more important against the background of rising prices for fossil energy sources, yet due to the lack of further development, and increasing energy requirements it is increasingly being considered less important. By supporting the WaterPowerPlayground we want to playfully raise the people's awareness for the significance of this most important renewable energy source, today and in the future."
Verbund Board Director Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer points out the sustainability aspect of Verbund's commitment: "In line with our corporate strategy that is based on sustainability and renewable energy sources, we would also like to address the next generation in order to lead Austria step by step into a new energy future that is economically successful, ecologically sound and socially compatible."