Project Update: In Students’ Own Words

Upon starting to write this post to follow up on progress with this project, (See the last post “Learning that Matters.”) I  realized that student voices should be the ones to tell the story.  These students have done an incredible job with their team projects, and with their individual blogs.

Now… in their own words…


Photo: Sue Houston

“This blog is about protecting and preserving our environment. I am currently in high school and taking a climate science class. My goal for this blog is to encourage all to help save our wonderful planet.”  Ollie

“I will be posting about things that I am going to make in my climate science class. It is a fun class that has a great teacher and great classmates. We are now building miniature windmills for class and will be blogging about the experiences.”  Lucas


Photo credit: Sam Royal

“The way the turbine worked was by getting kinetic energy from the wind which would rotate the wings on the turbine that would then turn into mechanical energy. The mechanical energy is then put into the ac generator which turns the mechanical energy into electrical energy that we can use and store…. A very important function of the turbine is the gears. The way the gears work is if there is a large gear connected to a small gear then every one rotation of the big gear is equal to two rotations of the small gear, because of this, the smaller gear will rotate faster but it will also be harder to turn. Wind turbines use this mechanical advantage to get the most energy production. On a windy day, the wind turbines would use a large to small gear ratio, but on a less windy day, the turbines would use a smaller to larger gear ratio.” Sam



Photo: Sue Houston

“The blades are designed to be a certain shape in order to be efficiently turned by the wind. This shape is similar to an airplane wing and is based around the The Bernoulli Effect. This effect is the concept that fast moving air has lower pressure while slow moving air has higher pressure.  In an airplane the slower current under the wing has more pressure and creates lift while the faster current of top has less pressure. This concept can be applied to the blades of a wind turbine and how the air pushes against them. When the wind blows the circular motion of the fan turning creates kinetic energy. The energy from the fan turns the gears in the gear box which turn the generator. The generator is the component of the wind turbine that actually converts ” Ceilidh



“If you look at the gear box to above you can see that the two blue gears are connected. This is for medium winds. For higher winds we connect the last yellow and red gear and for lower winds we connect the first yellow and red gear. The reason we do this is because although the last gear it harder to turn, we generate a lot more energy because one turn with a big gear in this scenario is like four turns with a little gear. And in the front the small red gear needs to turn about four or five times to get the big yellow gear to turn once. This is a lot easier to turn but generates not as much energy. If you look at the gear box you will see that the speed at which the bottom gears turn effect the energy generated. But with low winds it is a lot easier just to align the small red gear in front with the big yellow although it generates less energy. But if you align the last big gear with the last small red gear it won’t even spin.” Ollie

“The last thing we are going to look at is how the generator transforms kinetic energy, in the form of a rotating turbine, to electrical energy, in the form of the LED light. The way it does this is use the kinetic energy to spin a magnet around a coil of wire. What this accomplishes is that the magnetic field created pushes electrons through the wire. It applies a pressure and moves the electrons along much like a pump pushes water through a pipe. Once the electrons are flowing through the wire we have electricity at varying volts and amps. This can be connected to anything as we know in our very diverse use of electricity in technology. Our kit can even charge batteries which transforms the energy again, this time from electrical energy to chemical energy stored in the battery.” Andrew



Photo credit: Delia Holland

“This project was very engaging for all of us, but it also really allowed the different group members to display their talents. Sam was very good at interpreting directions and explaining them. Ollie was the chief engineer. Andrew helped to screw together the different pieces which was quite the task without a screw driver! Lucas and Delia were the overseers of the project. We kept the many pieces and parts organized which was especially important during clean up. Overall, this was a really enjoyable project for everyone and it brought us a lot closer as a team because we were all trying to figure this out together. Each one of us had something valuable to contribute and everyone’s voice was heard. ” Delia

“The lesson in this project besides learning more about energy sources was working with a group and thinking outside the box. We had to think outside the box and beyond the directions to figure out how to construct our kit and then again to realize that a mashup of our kits was the answer.  The special thing about a hands on project is that you are learning without even realizing it. Being hands on keeps you more involved in the project and forces you to participate. I really enjoyed learning through working hands on and hope other students get to experience this  opportunity too.” Cassie








About Sue Houston

I've been teaching high school science for over 25 years. The more I learn, the more questions I have about how good education really works. This blog is an attempt to explore the fundamental question of "How do Kids Learn?" This blog will include posts related to technology in education, neuroscience, behavioral science and real life experiences in the classroom. Please, I invite you all to join the conversation in the comments sections. Perhaps together we can find more insights into how kids learn! If you are a student, educator, or past student (that covers everyone, right?) you have something to contribute! :)
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