Wind Power, Wind Turbines
“Wind power has been growing at an average rate of 25% per year, making wind the fastest growing source of energy in the world since 1990. This growth reflects the cost-competitive nature of wind power today. And wind power doesn't pollute.”
While this little blurb does not provide much background information, there are many websites that do a wonderful job explaining the basics (check out the Resources section for other good sources of information). One site that gives a brief overview of the history, wind power, the relevance in today’s economy, and how the turbine works -- all on one page with multiple links to more information is the California Energy Commission website: Why reinvent the wheel?
The Design Process
The engineering design process is much like the scientific method, meaning there is no one standard process in use. I have simplified the process that I found on the Engineering is Elementary website into 4 distinct steps.
1. Brainstorm ideas
2. Plan and sketch
3. Build and test
4. Improve your design
Check out the website for more information from Engineering is Elementary program of the Museum of Science in Boston, MA.
You may also want to view the What is Engineering video.
What is Engineering
Material Preparation: How to assemble the wind turbine
- Cut the glue sticks into approximately 2.5 cm long pieces.
- Place one end of the skewer into the straw.
- Place the pointed end of the skewer into the cut end of the glue stick.
- Students will design blades that can be attached to paperclip that has 1 straightened bend. Students will stick the end of the paperclip into the sides of the glue stick. Hint: Students can use a push-pin to create a hole in the glue stick for the straightened paper clip.
- Cut string for the student teams that is approximately 60 cm in leng
- Check out the video that demonstrates how to set up the wind turbine:
Blowing in the Wind How To video
Students are required to work in partnerships or teams for Part 1 and in teams for Part 2. The ability to work in a group is an essential skill in elementary science and beyond.
Please look at the video on group work from the New York Hall of Science.
Group Work video
It is strongly suggested for teachers to build an example to show students beforehand. In the least, teachers should make sure that the skewer fits inside the straw and can rotate freely.