I have a young son, and having a boy means an interest in all things automotive.
My husband and I refer to it as an obsession, and often wonder if this will lead to some sort of crazy car fueled passion later in life.
Our friends with ecological interests question his fascination commenting on the fact that modern mobility isn’t necessarily the cleanest kind of toy a collection should be based. But boys will be boys and they certainly love all things with wheels and engines.
It shouldn’t matter what your friends or other people think, and toy cars are perfectly harmless, but I have to say, it did get me thinking about alternative toys and ways I could educate my son about the environment while still keeping him happily playing with his favourite kind of toy.
This week I found it! Actually my son found it. We were in Los Angeles, walking along 3rd Street in Beverly Hills when he pointed out a helicopter in a shop window with a constantly spinning propeller. Several blocks along 3rd Street reveal eco-friendly boutiques - stores that I frequent when visiting LA.
There in the widow of ‘Plastica’ a number of tiny wooden helicopters sat. I must confess on first glance I thought a fan was blowing the propellers. Then I realized they were solar powered.
This unique toy utilizes a novel application of photovoltaics. The blades of the propeller have compact solar panels that store energy to make the propeller spin. It’s a fabulous way to introduce your children to the basics of solar electricity.
My son loves it and is completely fascinated with this simple lesson of how the natural power of the sun charges up his helicopter. It’s also carved of wood and comes in classic primary colours. Though it doesn’t actually fly, the spinning effect makes for great pretend play in the hands of...well anyone for that matter.