GreenTown Los Altos

Save the Arctic Fox? These Kids Think So


Nov 2016


A Lego challenge team to the rescue of what?

Lego, the Danish toy company we know so well, sponsors an annual competition that calls for building a Lego structure to solve a problem. This year the theme is to help our animal allies. When the team of five 4th grade boys at Cumberland Elementary School, who call themselves Cougariosity, learned that climate change is harming the arctic fox they concluded that we need to stop burning so much fossil fuel. But how?

Their light bulb idea was to harness lightning given it’s clean and free. The idea is to use a lightning rod to direct the lightning bolt to a thermal system that heats water, run the hot water through thermoelectric pipes and generate useful electricity for the grid. They call this the Water Bolt Tower.


Team Cougariosity – Andrew, Soham, Parsa, Carmel and Declan.

When they asked GreenTown, “What do you think?” we were honest.

There are some practical matters to consider before getting starstruck on the idea. Lightning is powerful, so there is a risk of injury or damage. It is only available when we have storms, so it is not very reliable, predictably available or available in large “quantities”. Finally, it all sounds a bit complicated.

Undaunted, they asked, “Why do you think it hasn’t been done before?” Our answer, we have always had cheap fossil fuel so there was no need for innovative systems like the Water Bolt Tower. In a world where we need new ideas, we should consider everything!

GreenTown then asked them, “Do you know that we will have clean electricity next April?” They had not heard about Silicon Valley Clean Energy, so we explained that starting next year, our electricity will be 100% fossil-fuel free. The team of burgeoning scientists thought that was pretty cool.

Keep up the good work boys, the planet needs your creative help now more than ever!

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