“Think Big!” STEM – Wind Energy

On January 23, Three Mile Island WIN once again joined with volunteers from Phoenix Contact (Phoenix Contact develops and manufactures industrial electrical and electronic technology products that power, protect, connect and automate systems and equipment) for their ‘Think Big’ STEM program for the 4th graders at Foose Elementary School, Harrisburg, PA.  The ‘Think Big’ program is a year-long curriculum designed to get elementary students excited about STEM careers such as in wind, solar and nuclear. The 4th grade class this year is comprised of approximately 132 students.  The day was broken up into five, one-hour sessions.  Each session consisted of approximately five tables with five to six students per table and at least two volunteers per table.

This day provided the 2nd installment of the Wind Energy activity and experiment.  Working in small Teams to promote teamwork and teach collaboration, students discussed the pinwheels that they made during the 1st installment session. Ideas such as number of and shape of the blades, single or double-back blades, angles and rod length placement were discussed for improvements.  All students in each team were required to make their new pinwheel based on their Team’s final idea. Using the constraints given, such as size and thickness of paper and rod length; new designs were then drawn, discussed and finally the new pinwheels were made.  Each student then tested their pinwheel & documented their findings.  The pinwheels were tested using varying fan speeds & angles.  A multimeter was used, and the students calculated the Voltage x Current to find how much power their pinwheel put out.  They then calculated the number of 8.5-watt LEDs that could be powered by their varying designs. Each team then discussed their findings with the class.

The skills learned during the Wind Energy activity and experiment will be beneficial and built upon in the upcoming sessions for Solar and Nuclear Energy.

Pinwheels in the making
Pinwheel testing