Kids win $1,000 in clean energy challenge

Students compete to tap wind power

Students show off their homemade wind turbines at the first national KidWind challenge.

Dan Whisler

Wind can create a lot of energy. Just a few weeks ago, this blog covered KidWind, a company that offers free lesson plans on wind energy and the design of wind energy machines suitable for student projects. On April 26th, that company ran its first national KidWind challenge. The contestants blew the judges away with the power of their inventions.

Thirty-three middle and high school teams took part at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. The groups entered handmade wind turbines to test inside a high-speed wind tunnel. The goal: producing the most energy with their design.

The middle school winner, the DeAnza Academy of Technology and the Arts in Ventura, Calif., produced 128 joules of energy in 60 seconds. The high school winner, Copley High School in Copley, Ohio, produced 153.4 joules in a minute. Either system would have powered a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb. The winning teams each took home a $1,000 prize.

Through their participation, students learned how to tap the energy in wind to produce power. Other regional and online contests are always taking place. Teachers can sign their students up at the KidWind website.

Follow Eureka! Lab on Twitter

Power Words

joule   The amount of energy needed to produce one watt for one second. Joule is a standard unit of energy.

light emitting diodes (LEDs)  Electronic components that, as their name suggests, emit light when electricity flows through them. LEDs are very energy-efficient and often can be very bright. They have lately been replacing conventional lights in auto taillights and in some bulbs used for home lighting.

Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.