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The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

based on 13 ratings
Author: Gene B. Williams
Type

Physical Science, Ecology

Grade

5+

Difficulty

Medium to Difficult

Cost

$15+

Safety Issues

None

Material Availability

Kits are available

Approximate Time

2-3 hours+

Objective

To demonstrate and explore how wind can be used in various ways to provide power.

Materials

The easiest way is to purchase a kit, such as the Green Science Windmill Generator. A small electric fan can be used to simulate blowing wind.

To build one:

  • Windmill with shaft
  • Small electric generator
  • Belt between windmill shaft and generator shaft
  • Voltmeter to measure output (Radio Shack, etc.)

Note: The kit listed uses and\ LED to show power generation, and a voltmeter is not needed.

Introduction

One form of renewable power is from the wind. This has been known for a very long time. In some areas, wind power is still used for a variety of purposes, such as grinding grain, pumping water, and generating electricity. Because wind isn’t constant, a system of batteries is often used to store the electrical energy to provide a steady supply.

Photos

Many sources are available, both commercial and government. It is suggested that the student compare the classic flat-vaned windmills of Holland to modern wind generators.

Research Questions

  • What causes wind?
  • How does blade design affect efficiency?
  • How does wind power compare to other methods of renewable power generation?
  • How does a generator work?
  • In what other ways can a windmill be used?

Terms

  • Generator: a device, usually a coil of wires and magnets, with one of those (rotor) turning inside the other (stator)
  • Vane: the blade of a windmill
  • Turbine: a device that uses blades (usually) to cause rotational motion
  • Wind: movement of air usually caused by air pressure variations and/or convection

Concepts

When the wind blows, a vane/blade can be used to “catch” the wind and cause a shaft to turn. This energy can then be used to drive a mill, water pump, electrical generator, etc. Although beyond the scope of this project, windmill generators in practical use have rechargeable batteries to store the energy for times when the wind is not blowing. Windmill farms use complex systems for storage and routing of the electrical power. Optional would be to add diagrams of this to display with the project.

Experimental Procedure

  1. Build the windmill generator, either from kit or parts.
  2. Use a small fan to simulate the wind.
  3. Use a voltmeter to measure the generator output, or observe the kit’s LED.

Bibliography

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power
  2. http://www.windenergy.com/news/news_IREC_2-24-10.html
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_farm
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrical_generator  
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