BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Wind turbines are used to generate electricity from the power of the wind. And a group of students here in the Valley has been making their own turbines and learning about renewable energy at the same time.
Seventh graders at Glenwood Junior High in Boardman have been busy in the lab using power tools and trial and error to tackle the lesson.
Eric Diefenderfer, 7th-grade science teacher, said the goal is to have students do more than read about the lesson.
“They are not just looking it up in a textbook. It is trial and error and applying the scientific method and the engineering process. It has been great,” Diefenderfer said. “We presented a problem which was a challenge who can design the most efficient turbine blade, and we just left it open. This is all based on their own design and research.”
The students spent some time learning about wind turbines and biomimicry. Diefenderfer said some of that research talked about turbine blade design based off humpback whales and how efficient they are with swimming and moving through the water.
The students were given wood or cardboard, but they could also choose other materials if the wanted. One group used plastic.
“We thought that if we used plastic, it will have the ability a fan does,” said Madison Lester, 7th-grade student.
The project also gave the students an opportunity to work with tools that they wouldn’t normally get to work with in a science classroom. Madison’s group got their plastic from a laundry basket, and they want to use a heating device to bend the plastic.
“We think that it will be able to catch the air as it spins and when it spins it will scoop the air with it,” Madison said.
For the testing phase, students used a fan to generate wind that will turn the blades and in turn lift weight. There are two challenges – the students are measuring how many volts it can generate and how much weight it can hold.
The lesson is part of a national competition. Once the students are finished, they will submit their designs and data to a national online challenge. Winners are chosen each month and students can win $50 for their work.
One of the goals of the competition is to get students to start thinking about renewable energy.