The Answer is Blowing in the Wind

3.7 based on 18 ratings

Updated on Nov 07, 2012


Physical Science, Ecology




Medium to Difficult



Safety Issues


Material Availability

Kits are available

Approximate Time

2-3 hours+


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


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.


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.


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?


  • 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


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.


Gene B. Williams is a freelance writer with 54 published books and thousands of stories and articles. He has been a science teacher and assistant headmaster at a private school, then senior editor for three educational publishers. One of his newest projects is "Nicker Stories," a delightful and humorous collection of stories about a young boy and his sea dragon.

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