This is a project kit. Using the engineering design process, students will design, construct, and test (and, if needed, redesign and retest) a turbine blade that is both effective and efficient at generating electrical energy from a wind source. Students will use the Vernier output module to determine how many volts their turbine will produce and a wind meter to determine wind speed.
- Renewable energy (wind)
- Generation of electricity (volts)
- Surface area (of the blade)
- Angles (of the blades in the rotor)
- Construction materials
Grade 5 science
Guiding question: How are energy resources understood?
Learning outcome: Students investigate and analyze various energy resources
Skills and procedures:
- Compare renewable energy resources with non-renewable energy resources.
- Discuss advantages and disadvantages of using renewable and non-renewable energy resources.
Using the wind turbine kits, students will examine the viability of wind as an energy source in Alberta. Students will construct wind turbines and engage in the engineering design process to design, construct, and test their wind turbine blades. Using concepts such as blade length, shape, material, and angles, students will harness the wind to produce electricity.
Wind turbine technicians work with this renewable energy source daily. Wind turbine technicians construct and maintain turbines as well as repair turbine blades.
60–120 minutes (to complete this task in a shorter amount of time, have the wind turbines preassembled for students)
- Vernier wind turbine kit (rotor, ¼” dowels, Vernier output module, generator, protractor)
- Cardboard, Balsa wood or lightweight foamboard or polypropylene (display board material)
- Scissors or utility blade
- Measuring tape or ruler
- Hot glue gun
- Phillips screwdriver
The project kit comes with multiple Vernier wind turbines. Educators can preassemble each turbine prior to the activity, if desired. This will cut down on the total time required to complete the project.
Prior to this activity, students should have already learned about renewable and non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels, water and hydro, wind, and biomass.
- Assemble the KidWind wind turbine as outlined in the instructional video. Students can assemble their own wind turbines or educators can have them preassembled.
- Once the kit is assembled students can engage in blade design, the designing and construction phase of the engineering design process.
- Be sure to show students the rotor, which is used to hold the blades and attaches to the generator on the wind turbine.
- Students need to consider the following when designing blades:
- Construction material of the blade (weight, surface)
- Length of the blade
- Shape of the blade
- Orientation of the blades in the rotor (angles)
- Once students have designed their blades, they will use the hot glue guns to secure their blades to the wood dowls. Once dried, they can insert their blades into the rotor and attach the rotor to the turbine by tightening the set screw with the Phillips screwdriver. NOTE: Students might need assistance when tightening the set screw.
- Students will then generate wind by turning on the fan. Students will measure the effectiveness of their wind turbine by examining the volt reading on the Vernier output module.
- Students are encouraged to track the success of each blade design. Students can record their data in a table or chart or in a logbook. Using the collected data, students should adjust or modify their blade design through the redesign and retest phase of the engineering design process.
Examine the effectiveness of each student’s blade. Did the blade design enable the turbine to generate electricity from wind? Did the students engage in the engineering design process in an attempt to make improvements? This can be assessed using a rubric or checklist.
Students can keep a written record of each blade test in a table or chart. Progress can be examined with each iteration. Students can then summarize what they learned from this activity.
Collaboration and group discussion
Students can take part in a group build where they engage in the engineering design process as a group. Students must collaborate with other group members when making decisions.
- Examine the effect of adding more blades to the rotors
- Additional blade materials can be examined
- Students can use the wind meter to determine optimal wind speed for their turbine
Warren Anderson, Colton Garner, Colin Wynder