In this hands-on engineering activity, students build a tabletop wind turbine. Students get acquainted with the basics of wind energy and power production by fabricating and testing various blade designs for table-top windmills, constructed from one-inch PVC pipe and balsa wood (or recycled materials). The activity includes lots of good media and Web resources supporting the science content.
This animation presents the characteristics of wind power as a source of clean energy. The force of moving air generates electricity, by rotating blades around a rotor. The motion of the rotor turns a driveshaft that drives an electric generator.
This interactive diagram from the National Academy of Sciences shows how we rely on a variety of primary energy sources (solar, nuclear, hydro, wind, geothermal, natural gas, coal, biomass, oil) to supply energy to four end-use sectors (residential, commercial, industrial, and transportation). It also focuses on lost or degraded energy.
In this short activity, students or groups are tasked to make concept sketches that track the source of electrical power as far back as they can conceive. The concept sketches reveal students' prior conceptions of the power grid and energy mix, and lead naturally into a lesson or discussion about energy resources and power production.
This video is one of a series from the Switch Energy project. It reviews the environmental impacts of various energy resources including fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewables. CO2 emissions as a specific environmental impact are discussed.
Students go through the design process and the scientific method to test the effect of blade design on power output. There is an optional extension to use the data to create an optimal set of wind turbine blades.