Wind Turbines and Wind Power

In the 21st century, more people are turning towards reusable sources of energy. Using wind to generate electricity is a popular form of reusable energy due to its efficiency. To harness wind power, one creates structures called wind turbines which are large rotary mechanical devices. The wind turns the giant propellers of the wind turbines to generate electricity. Sensors move the propeller blades to catch the wind. As the turbine blades spin, their rotation generates electricity. 

As a young boy, William Kamkwamba was able to use wind power to uplift his community. Despite several obstacles in his life, William used his creativity to help his village during a severe drought. His story has moved thousands and has been turned into a best-selling book and a famous movie called “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.” Watch the following video to hear the inspirational story of his life.

In this activity, you will learn how to recreate model wind turbines. Once you understand the directions, try making turbines of different sizes and experiment to see which one turns faster. Investigate how the thickness of paper impacts the turning of the turbine and see how facing away from and into the wind changes the rotation. Have fun experimenting!

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Pen on pencil
  • Push-pin (thumb-tack)
  • Straw (plastic or reusable) or single chopstick 

Directions:

  1. Fold a square piece of paper corner to corner both ways. Once diagonal creases are visible, open the square. 
  1. Mark dots in the places shown in the picture. One in the center and one beside each corner of the diagonal creases.
  1. Cut two thirds of the way along the creases as shown and use the pushpin to make holes in the dots.
  1. Using the thumbtack, poke a small hole in the straw. 
  1. Fold over each corner of the paper with a hole to the center. Then, push the thumbtack through the center of the paper and connect it to the straw.
  1. Go outdoors and hold your wind turbine up to the wind and watch what happens!

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