The Cockpit is a helicopter powered by user-generated mechanical energy to teach kids and adults about the laws of physics. The Cockpit is a helicopter powered by user-generated mechanical energy to teach kids and adults about the laws of physics. The Cockpit is a helicopter powered by user-generated mechanical energy to teach kids and adults about the laws of physics. (Photo: ABA Science Play)

This could be the coolest playground ever

A new company is turning science education into child’s play.

From Baby Einstein to online games designed to teach kids how to program computers, learning is more often taking place during recess instead of behind a desk. And now an Israeli company is bringing science education to the playground.

ABA Science Play has developed the “playground of tomorrow” chock full of interactive activities to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to kids, all while they burn off excess energy and enjoy the fresh air outside.

Instead of swaying back and forth on a simple rocking horse on a spring, hop onto the Twister, a stationary bike attached to a six-foot-tall water tank, and pedal your way to creating a whirlpool. Or, ditch that tired old seesaw and hop onto Science Play’s new and improved seesaw designed with a set of tubes filled with liquid. As kids play, the liquid shifts in the tubes, always staying parallel with the ground. Play long enough, and kinetic energy gathered will light up a giant bulb at the center of the structure.

Other pieces of equipment teach lessons like Newton’s third law (action equals reaction), how a vacuum works and even the principles of thermodynamics. The Mobius Bench – shaped like a recycling symbol – features sliding balls, which the children can move around the bench to observe that it indeed has only one side. Each of the pieces is powered by solar, wind and user-generated kinetic energy.

Kids play a game of "Simon Says" on a shaky platform, loosely balanced by unequally weighted objects.Kids play a game of 'Simon Says' on a shaky platform, loosely balanced by unequally weighted objects. (Photo: ABA Science Play)

“In these scientific playgrounds, children are given approximately 70 different types of information about science, which includes different physical laws, information about the universe and recycling,” CEO Yoav Finkelstein told From the Grapevine.

The concept for the playground was first developed by company co-founder Yossie De Levie in 2008. De Levie had previously founded and ran Games & Sports, a playground manufacturer based in Israel and Europe. After he sold the business, he turned his efforts to developing a new kind of playground that would be both educational and fun. A year later, the STEM Education Coordination Act was introduced in the U.S., making science education a national issue.

Children learn about the solar system in the Spinning Universe, sitting in a sphere to represent the sun, while Earth and moon rotate around them. Children learn about the solar system in the Spinning Universe, sitting in a sphere to represent the sun, while Earth and moon rotate around them. (Photo: ABA Science Play)

“The STEM decision in 2009 gave us a real boost to continue working and developing the science playground for children to learn about science in a way that enhances the experience and encourages children to act,” said Finkelstein.

ABA Science Play established its first playgrounds in Israel last year in several city parks as well as at a couple local science museums. They were recently certified by the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association and are ready to begin sales in the U.S. and Europe.

Running on the Pythagoras Treadmill children learn about the Pythagoras theorem and potential energy.Running on the Pythagoras Treadmill children learn about the Pythagoras theorem and potential energy. (Photo: ABA Science Play)

According to the company, several city agencies in Los Angeles, Seattle and Miami are interested in installing the playgrounds in public parks, and De Levie is expected to spend much of this month in the U.S. visiting science museums and municipal authorities across the country.

Finkelstein told us each of Science Play’s products are special in their own way, but the Helicopter is his favorite. “Our Helicopter was the first product to be developed and it’s the most enthusiastic and complicated product. Every kid and parent is thrilled by its design."

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