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Thursday, November 17, 2011

2011 National Youth Science Day Celebrated

Fifth and sixth graders at Davis Middle School After School Program celebrated National 4-H Youth Science Day by participating in the 2011 National 4-H Youth Science Experiment – Wired for Wind on Wednesday, November 9, 2011, where they designed and tested their own wind turbines.
Before exploring the potential of wind power as an alternative energy source, students discussed energy and electricity in general. They talked both about renewable and non-renewable energy, the sources for both and then how the power of the wind is being converted into electricity in a wind turbine.
Thinking like engineers and using the engineering design process students designed, built and tested their own wind turbines. They formed teams of two to three students, brainstormed over the design and number of blades to be used and then built a prototype using wooden dowels, poster-board or paper cups, a pencil, scissors and hot glue. They attached the blades to a hub and mounted the rotor to a hand-held turbine tower made of PVC and a small generator. At a fan station teams then connected  the turbine wires to a small multi-meter and tested the voltage output of their wind turbine prototype. Some teams had built a vertical axis and some a horizontal axis wind turbine. Students recorded and compared the outputs and then made adjustments to the blade pitch using a protractor.
At the end students discussed what factors to consider when choosing a location for a wind turbine or wind turbine field.
100% of the students asked, stated they learned , through experimentation, how wind turbine design affects performance; they learned the basics of wind turbine design and how wind is converted into electrical energy and which energy sources are renewable and which are non renewable.
Hillsdale County 4-H Youth Development received a National  4-H Youth Science Day grant from Michigan State University to hold the 2011 Wired for Wind National 4-H Science Experiment at Davis Middle School After School program and to support future science programming.
This was the fourth year National 4-H offered a National Science Experiment. Each year the experiment is carefully chosen to assure it is research based and that youth are participating in their own learning through an experiential hands-on process. This year youth across the nation learned about renewable energy sources and wind power technologies.