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Wind Power Basics

Infinite Power of Texas

This activity focuses on wind energy concepts, which are introduced through a Reading Passage and by answering assessment questions. Students construct and test a windmill to observe how design and position affect the electrical energy produced.

Activity takes four to five 45-minute class periods. Additional materials are necessary.

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Energy Literacy

Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Electricity is usually generated in one of two ways.
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4.5 Electricity generation.
Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
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2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
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B) Designing investigations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
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C) Energy.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
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D) Technology.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
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E) Environmental Issues.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
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C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The State of Texas, which developed this activity, is usually thought of as being an oil and gas state, but it is a national and global leader in wind energy as well.
  • Add additional questions to the reading guide to assess student learning of all content presented.
  • Supplementary information resource is the National Wind Technology Center's website- http://www.nrel.gov/wind/.
  • The definition of an electric grid is presented, but information regarding the importance of an updated grid to be able to accommodate large wind farms is not; it should be noted that this is a key hurdle in the large scale deployment of wind technology. The U.S. Department of Energy has a site discussing the smart grid plans for the 21st century: http://www.oe.energy.gov/smartgrid.htm.

About the Science

  • This lesson introduces students to the concept of generating electricity from the wind and has a strong teacher section with background information.
  • The lesson does not distinguish the differences between a wind mill (used for grinding grain or pumping water) and a wind turbine (used for generating electricity).
  • Comments from expert scientist: The science is generally correct and the lesson plan includes two recommended activities plus a follow-up optional activity to reinforce wind energy conversion concepts. In general, students and teachers can benefit from the module.

About the Pedagogy

  • Based on their lab results, students will also engage in a follow-up activity to measure the power generated by their optimized windmill.
  • Strong assessment section for lab activities.
  • Comments from expert scientist: I would recommend 3-4 hours for this activity alone. The instructions on Step II should include a statement that the student holding the end of the ruler should not stand directly in line with the fan and rotor, as the student’s body will obstruct enough wind to change the experimental results.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Comprehensive teachers guide provided; answer key included.

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