Middle school students compete in 2nd Annual PA KidWind Challenge

Students from around the state participated in the 2nd Annual PA KidWind challenge held at Londonderry School in Harrisburg, Pa. on Mar. 23. Local area middle school students took home cash prizes for their turbine designs and presentations.

The KidWind Challenge is a wind turbine design competition for middle and high school students. Teams of 2-4 students incorporate engineering and science to build powerful small-scale wind turbines and compete with other students from around the state to see which turbine generates the most electricity.

The event is a chance to get students involved and excited about alternative energy and sustainability. On top of gaining teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills, students learn key scientific concepts during the construction process. Prizes are awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams in two divisions: geared and direct drive.

This year’s competition was sponsored by Constellation Energy, TE Connectivity, Penn State's Center for Science and the Schools, KidWind Project, Women of Wind Energy (WoWE), and the Pennsylvania Wind for Schools Program, an outreach program funded by the Wind Powering America Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and administered by Penn State.

“The PA KidWind Challenge is a great opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in creating a turbine design that can produce power," said Leah Bug, assistant director of the Center for Science and the Schools. 

“The PA KidWind Challenge is a great opportunity for students to apply their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in creating a turbine design that can produce power," said Leah Bug, assistant director of the Center for Science and the Schools.

"Kids learn teamwork skills while having a great time testing out their turbine design. Many teams are already discussing redesigns and modifications for next year’s event! This challenge is an avenue to help students see the importance and fun of STEM learning,” explained Bug. There were also teacher professional development workshops to help prepare teachers incorporate the PA KidWind Challenge into their classrooms.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind power continues to be one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world. By 2030, wind energy could provide as much as 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, supporting 500,000 jobs and billions of dollars in new domestic economic investment. However, to get there, this industry will need an educated and inspired STEM workforce.

“We desperately need to engage the next generation of leaders in science and technology research and development that will help make a renewable energy future a reality,” said Michael Arquin, KidWind project founder and director.

“We desperately need to engage the next generation of leaders in science and technology research and development that will help make a renewable energy future a reality,” said Michael Arquin, KidWind project founder and director.

This event not only educated students about the science behind wind energy, it also introduced students to opportunities and careers available in the field of renewable energy.

“Connecting young women with a positive experience like the KidWind Challenge is critical to keeping them engaged and passionate about science, technology, and renewable energy,” explained Kristen Graf, WoWE executive director.

The organizations involved in this project are working to specifically engage girls in wind energy science through these events, featuring female mentors and guest speakers from the wind industry to inspire female students in renewable energy STEM fields. Historically, women have been underrepresented in the wind industry and other high tech fields. Addressing this gender gap is a core component of this initiative.

Judges were Troy Carpenter, trainer for the Gamesa Technology Corporation North America Division, Susan Stewart, Penn State research associate in Aerospace Engineering and Architectural Engineering and director of the Pennsylvania Wind for Schools Program, and Eli Blumenthal, student at Dickenson College.

Congratulations to the following prize winning teams:

Middle School Geared Division
1st Place: The Hurricanes from Bellefonte Middle School; Teacher Advisor: Heather Spotts: $175
2nd Place: Bacon! from Londonderry School; Teacher Advisor: Judy Bower: $125
3rd Place: The Flying Cows 2 from Londonderry School; Teacher Advisor: Judy Bower: $75

Middle School Direct Drive Division
1st Place: The Power of the Wind from Mt. Nittany Middle School; Teacher Advisors: Jane Rubba/Deb Daggs: $175
2nd Place: Time to Wind from Mt. Nittany Middle School; Teacher Advisors: Jane Rubba/Deb Daggs: $125
3rd Place: Wind Wonders from Mt. Nittany Middle School; Teacher Advisors: Jane Rubba/Deb Daggs: $75
Judges choice: Green Wind from Mt. Nittany Middle School; Teacher Advisor: Jane Rubba/Deb Daggs: $50

For more information about sustainability at Penn State, visit www.sustainability.psu.edu, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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Last Updated May 14, 2013