Six weeks of digging in the Archimedes sandbox

27/06/2022
  Building of the sandbox Copyright: © Stadt Aachen/Andreas Herrmann

Shovels and molds are ready:
Six weeks of digging in the Archimedean sandbox

The fact that the Archimedean Sandbox is set up at the Katschhof at the beginning of the summer vacations seems to have got around among many children by now: The first young diggers were ready on time with shovel and bucket to dive into some of the 140 tons of play sand right at the beginning. And after all, the construction, which the well-coordinated team of the city operation completes within a few hours, is also a spectacle. 160 meters of running beams are laid and tightened with 200 carriage bolts, sand is brought in with four dump trucks, and finally distributed by wheel loader and also by hand in the large 320 square meter wooden construction.

140 tons of new play sand

"When we helped initiate the sandbox seven years ago, we were still unsure how it would develop, but in the first year we already noticed that it was an incredible success and a huge joy," recalls Ilse Stollenwerk, head of the Green and Open Space Maintenance division of the Aachen municipal authority, about the beginnings. Today, ten employees from the green space teams, as well as some trainees, help set up the structure and spread the sand. "We have completely new play sand this year. The one from last year was donated to the affected areas, including Friesenrath and Walheim, after the flood." Throughout the summer vacations, up to and including Sunday, August 7, the sandbox will also be supervised by employees of the city operation, including playground inspectors who will rake the play sand every morning and check for contamination.

Still a few vacation playgrounds free

A major contribution to the success of the Archimedean Sandbox - a project within the framework of the FutureLab to make the science city of Aachen more visible together with the universities and the city of Aachen - is made by the Archimedean Workshop, led by the Bleiberger Fabrik. On this year's theme, "Generating energy through wind power," the participating children build a construction under the guidance of artist Berthold Westhoff to playfully explain how energy can be generated. Overall, the demand for vacation playgrounds is very high, as Renate Prömpeler from the Department of Children, Youth and Schools reports - and is very pleased with the feedback. "We still get spontaneous inquiries and just as spontaneously there are still providers who increase their participant capacity."

This is also the case with the Archimedean Workshop, as head Birgit Frank explains, because they have also increased the number of participants: 20 children take part in the respective vacation weeks. "In addition, this year we are also offering day slots, which means that children and young people between the ages of 10 and 16 can come to us spontaneously and join in." What the result will look like in the end at the Katschhof, even the director is open to surprise. "We don't give any direction; this is where art meets science, which should unfold freely."

Visit to the RWTH Energy Research Center

This year, the Archimedean Workshop is receiving thematic and technical support from the E.ON Energy Research Center at RWTH Aachen University and the Center for Wind Power Drives (CWD) at RWTH Aachen University. There, the participating children already visited on Monday and got an insight into research from, among others, Univ.-Prof. Antonello Monti as well as Prof. Dr.-Ing. Ralf Schelenz. "We have a model landscape and small wind turbines. The children can place the wind turbines in the landscape and then a wind machine can be used to show the interaction between wind, wind turbine and load. This allows the children to see how energy is created. This way we can visualize energy and I think that's very nice because energy is hard to understand because otherwise you can't see it," explains Univ. Prof. Antonello Monti.

He and his colleagues will repeat this explanation on Thursday, July 7, for anyone interested. Then, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., the action day will take place as part of FutureLab Aachen at the Katschhof. The E.ON Energy Research Center at RWTH Aachen University will use a small wind farm model to demonstrate how electricity supply and demand are matched in the grid. The Center for Wind Power Drives (CWD) at RWTH Aachen University will present a model of a typical wind turbine. Professor Simon Bales and students from the University of Music and Dance will perform on the Town Hall steps starting at 4 pm. Other offerings from Aachen University of Applied Sciences, RWTH Aachen University and the eXploregio.net network of extracurricular learning venues invite visitors to discover, try out and participate.

The popular Good Morning Yoga, an offer within the framework of the Healthy Administration of the City of Aachen, will also take place again: Mondays up to and including August 1, from 7 to 7:30 a.m. - no cost, no registration.

Excavators, trucks and shovels

And for those children who spontaneously come to the sandbox and don't have their own sand toys with them, there's more good news: this year, small shovels, excavators and trucks, sponsored by Stawag, will again be available to everyone. The large sun awning will also be up. "Nothing illustrates child-friendliness in the city more than the Archimedean Sandbox," emphasizes Kirsten Haake from Stawag.

It's a project where art meets science, cross-generational summer enjoyment, around the clock in the heart of the city. Six weeks of summer vacation, six weeks of the Archimedean Sandbox: Let's get started!