Alternative energy topics are popular STEM subjects. Children can relate the concepts to their everyday lives today and in the future. Wind turbine explorations can be done indoors, and sometimes for very little investment in preparation time and money. Wind turbine blade development provides an excellent platform for teaching the concept of changing only one variable at a time in experimental design. Subtle changes in blade configuration often yield dramatic results that excite the youngsters, and encourage them to investigate further.

Wind turbines that generate electricity require greater monetary investment, but provide for a wider range of experimentation. Students test blades, premade or of their own design, adjusting parameters to maximize electrical output.

Wind turbines for weight lifting are less costly and easier to manage than electricity generating wind turbines, but are more limited in scope. Students maximize mechanical output as determined by the time it takes to raise a given load a given distance, and how much weight can be raised. Supply and preparation guidelines common to all electrical and all weightlifting activities will be posted separately.

Activity formats vary depending on the age of your students, number of turbines available, and time frame. These five activity options are outlined in separate posts:

Turbine TypeTime FrameAgePreparation TimeRelative Cost
ElectricalOne day for 1 hourAll⏱⏱⏱$$$
ElectricalTwo days, for 1 hour eachAll⏱⏱⏱$$$$
ElectricalOne day workshop, 2-3 hoursMiddle sch. and up⏱⏱⏱$$$$
MechanicalOne day for 1 hourElementary sch.$
MechanicalTwo days, for 1 hour eachAll⏱⏱$$

The posts detailing each version of the activity are linked below. There will be some duplication of sections, so that each post contains all the information needed to run that activity. These links will become active as the posts are uploaded.

(Electrical) Wind Turbines to Generate Electricity

(Mechanical) Wind Turbines to Lift Weights

(Supplies and preparation included in their respective posts)

Banner photo of the Paderborn wind farm by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


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