Playponics pilot playground installed in Uttar Pradesh, India


This week sees the installation of the Playponics pilot at a school in Uttar Pradesh, India. The prototype, which harness energy from physical activity to grow crops, has been designed by Lab4Living researchers. It will be presented by principal researcher Heath Reed at the Designing for Children conference in Mumbai today.

The pilot will enable the team to test how specially constructed play equipment in a school environment can use the power generated from children’s play to sustain crops. For example, children riding seesaws fitted with pumps can transfer nutrient rich water around playground gardens to feed hydroponic crop growing frames. The project and prototypes have been developed in a Lab4Living design team led by Heath Reed and Andy Stanton.

Playponics materials delivery in Delhi

With the help of the local community in Khanpur, Uttar Pradesh, the pilot Playponics playground garden has been installed at a primary school this week. The pilot includes seesaws and hydroponic growing frames built by Indian based contractors. It has been installed by Lab4Living partners at ATIVA (a Delhi based design consultancy), and scholars from the Vahani Scholarship Trust, an organisation set up to provide education and training for talented and underprivileged children in India, and local businesses across India. Two more pilots will follow in India later this year.

Playponics installation team

Playponics provides kinaesthetic learning opportunities across STEM subjects, with environmental education and sustainable practices at their core. The project is funded through Sheffield Hallam University’s Global Challenges Research Fund and Research England. The project supports the University’s commitment to innovative, practical solutions to real challenges, and crosscuts a number of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The coronavirus pandemic has presented certain challenges: Lab4Living researchers Heath Reed and Andy Stanton were working with partners in Delhi in March 2020 when COVID travel restrictions forced them to return to Sheffield. Heath Reed said:

“It has not been easy to work on the project remotely but the strong network of businesses and organisations Lab4Living established during our previous research fieldtrips to India has meant there is a fantastic Playponics team in place. Even though we can’t be there in person at the moment, we’re excited to see the pilot installed at last.”

Heath will be demonstrating – remotely – Playponics at the Designing for Children Conference at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, tomorrow and will present his paper ‘Hydroponics Playground Garden, ‘Playponics’; designing integrated sustainability and STEM education through play’ later today.


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Playponics seesaw prototype in 2019