Wind Lessons Make Big Impression

Bottineau County elementary school students have discovered a simple saltine cracker can  teach them about wind energy.
Kids Learn About Wind Energy

These youngsters were among about 4,100 North Dakota students who joined millions of youth nationwide on Oct. 5 for “Wired for Wind,” the 4-H National Youth Science Day’s 2011 experiment.

After discussing types of energy and studying photos of wind farms and wind turbines, the Bottineau County kindergarteners and first-, second- and third-graders made their own turbines. They balanced crackers on their fingers and gently blew on the crackers to make them spin. Then the students made pinwheels and went outside to see the wind in action.

“It was a really windy day, and the kids squealed with delight as their pinwheels came to life,” says Bottineau County Extension agent Karla Monson.

4-H launched National Youth Science Day in 2008 as part of a massive effort to help build American’s future workforce in science, engineering and technology.

In Morton County, fourth- and fifth-graders designed and built wind turbines as their Wired for Wind project. They chose vertical or horizontal blades and decided which blade pitch would produce the most energy.

“The kids strategized as to what turbine style they would make and watched as others put together their wind turbines so they would have a better reading of voltage,” says Morton County Extension agent Karla Meikle.

The students also learned how tall commercial wind turbines are, how much they weigh and how much concrete goes into building them, as well as about the challenges of building wind farms, the best locations for wind farms in North Dakota, impacts of wind farms on bird migration, and power transmission.

“They thought it was pretty cool how power generated in North Dakota could be transmitted and used all he way to Duluth, Minn.,” Meikle says.

This article originally appeared in the 2011 Annual Highlights of the North Dakota Argicultural Experiment Station and NDSU Extension Service.

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