Working with Wind Energy

Contributor
Try Engineering
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

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Most Recent Review

3 the correct url

https://tryengineering.org/teacher/working-wind-energy/

Description

The "Working with Wind Energy" lesson explores the use of wind energy to generate or augment energy in businesses and homes worldwide. The lesson focuses on how wind energy can be generated on both a large and small scale. Students read about anemometer and site testing for wind turbines and learn about engineering design and how engineering can address society's challenges. Students work in teams to design and build their own windmill out of everyday items which they select and purchase with a budget. They test their windmill, evaluate their results and present reflections to the class.

The authors state that the activity is appropriate for ages 8-18, but it aligns best with high school Next Generation Science Standards. The lesson should take two to three 45-minute sessions.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 9
  • Grade 10
  • Grade 11
  • Grade 12
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students learn about wind energy as a solution to the complex real-world problem of energy generation. They design their own windmills based on a list of criteria including performance and cost of materials. They consider trade-offs in the redesign process and evaluate which design is the most efficient. The teacher would need to ask students about constraints in designing wind turbines in the real world, including safety and aesthetics, as well as possible social, political and cultural impacts.

HS-PS3-3 Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of devices. Examples of devices could include Rube Goldberg devices, wind turbines, solar cells, solar ovens, and generators. Examples of constraints could include use of renewable energy forms and efficiency.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment for quantitative evaluations is limited to total output for a given input. Assessment is limited to devices constructed with materials provided to students.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students design and build a windmill given material and budgetary constraints. The finished product must be able to convert the kinetic energy of wind into mechanical energy as outlined in the instructions.

HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.

Clarification Statement: Examples of data on the impacts of human activities could include the quantities and types of pollutants released, changes to biomass and species diversity, or areal changes in land surface use (such as for urban development, agriculture and livestock, or surface mining). Examples for limiting future impacts could range from local efforts (such as reducing, reusing, and recycling resources) to large-scale geoengineering design solutions (such as altering global temperatures by making large changes to the atmosphere or ocean).

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students develop and evaluate a technological solution (a windmill) that meets certain criteria. In the student worksheet, they answer questions about the advantages and drawbacks of using wind turbines as sources of energy, which is talked about in the Student Resource. Students should redesign and retest as time allows. The teacher will need to ask questions of the students or use another activity such as “Evaluating Other Energy Sources” reviewed on the NGSS@NSTA hub at http://ngss.nsta.org/Curator/ViewResource.aspx?ResourceID=878 to further address ways to reduce impacts of human activities on natural systems.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students develop and test a model windmill that turns wind energy into mechanical energy. In the student sheets, they answer questions about their design, but the teacher will need to specifically ask about the mechanics of their windmill and how the finished model accomplishes the energy conversion.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students evaluate their solution to a windmill challenge based on constraints of cost and efficiency. In the student worksheet, they answer questions about the advantages and drawbacks of using wind turbines as sources of energy. The lesson should be supplemented as described in the Performance Expectation section to more fully address environmental impact. The teacher would need to ask students about constraints in designing wind turbines in the real world, including safety and aesthetics as well as possible social and cultural impacts.

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
As students test their model windmill, they are assessing the transfer of energy from the fan to the blades to the shaft lifting the tea bag. The teacher should specifically ask students about energy limits that can occur in their windmills and any other system.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students design a physical model of a windmill to simulate a wind turbine in the real world. They read about energy flows and interactions in the section “How Wind Turbines Work.” The teacher should ask students to draw their own model of how energy flows through the system from the wind to the propeller to the rotor to a generator to power lines. Students may also investigate other models of energy transfer such as hydropower and draw similar diagrams.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The focus of this lesson is on students designing a solution to a problem. Engineering is integrated with Disciplinary Core Ideas from Physical Science and Earth/Space science in this lesson by addressing conservation of energy and energy transfer (physical science) and natural resources (Earth science). They design a model windmill based on certain criteria which incorporates the Science and Engineering Practice of Modeling and the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models. The teacher will need to begin the lesson with a video of wind turbines such as the found at https://www.pbs.org/video/nova-wind-power/ to elicit student questions and prior experiences.

  • Instructional Supports: Students experience a design problem through the construction of a windmill as experienced in the real world. The lesson uses scientifically accurate and grade-appropriate information, representations, and questions for students related to the design of wind turbines. In the design process, students express, clarify, justify, and represent their ideas. They aren’t asked to respond to peer and teacher feedback, but they present their findings to the class. Connections to the students' home, neighborhood, community and/or culture are not included. If available, the teacher could use local wind turbines as the phenomena to introduce the lesson. The teacher should also ask students about their prior knowledge of the mechanics of the turbine, the use of wind as an energy source and their knowledge of engineering design. Teachers will need to include adaptations for differentiated instruction for both students who have met the performance expectations and those needing additional support.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Questions are provided for the students to answer, but the teacher will need to implement additional instructional strategies for formative assessment processes. The authors state students should present their design to the class and they determine the most efficient design, but there are no assessment tools to support them or the teacher. The teacher may want to design a rubric describing the goals of the design process to assist in assessment and to assist students in meeting expectations. The methods, vocabulary, representations, and examples are accessible and unbiased for all students.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: No technological interactivity is required for the lesson.