The KidWind Challenge – Web Competition is a wind turbine design contest open to students all over the world, every day of every year. Over a period of a few months, weeks or days, students spend time designing and constructing their own wind turbines with the goal of creating a device that is efficient, elegant and highly functional.
To accomplish these tasks students must perform research to better understand the science of wind, be analytical about testing protocols, think creatively about solutions to problems and work collaboratively to get their project completed on time.
The KidWind Challenge – Web Competition was launched in January 2012 to allow participation of students all over the world. While KidWind National Challenges are great fun, they can be challenging to find and attend. All you need to do to enter the KidWind Challenge - Web competition is build a turbine, collect some data and then upload that data to the web. You will then be placed into the current month's competition with students all over the world.
If you are interested you can see if there is a national challenge near you. Bring your turbines to an event and see how well it stacks up!
While it is a competition, the KidWind Challenge, at its core, is about learning. We want to immerse students in the science of how a wind turbine works through the process of design and redesign.
Ultimately, the KidWind Challenge engages students in an open-ended competition to build small-scale wind turbines that demonstrate knowledge about the promise and limits of a wind-powered future. Some call it the pine wood derby of wind energy. That's a flattering way to think about it and we hope one day that the Challenge becomes a program just as large!
It all started in a small classroom
Michael Arquin, the founder/director of the KidWind Project, got the idea for the KidWind Challenge when he was a middle school science teacher. While holding a Junior Solar Sprint Competition in his classroom, he decided to try the same concept using wind energy.
During this first challenge, Arquin found that students not only loved the competition itself, but also learned valuable scientific concepts. In a fun, creative, hands-on learning environment, he was able to teach them where the wind comes from, what energy transfer is, the difference between power and energy, and much more.
After founding KidWind, Michael wanted to scale up his classroom effort by putting on a large-scale event with more students and teams. He finally got his chance in 2009 when the first official KidWind Challenge was sponsored in New York through a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Funds from this grant were used to build a portable wind tunnel and tour the Challenge through four locations in New York during the school year.
Though fellow teachers have likely put on such events in their own classrooms, the KidWind Challenge is the first to implement a standardized, nationwide set of guidelines. The KidWind Challenge is now in its third year. Each year we get better at building wind tunnels, and students have gotten even better at building turbines!
In 2011, KidWind sponsored Challenges in five states. The most extensive event was at the WindPower trade show in Anaheim, the largest wind energy conference in the world. Over 150 students participated!
In Minnesota, we have coupled the KidWind Challenge with solar and other energy challenges to create the MN Renewable Energy Challenge - a possible prototype for a future national challenge. In spring of 2012, we will be sponsoring Challenges in twelve states. We are planning to launch our national level Challenge in 2012-13!
If you have any new ideas for the Challenge, or want to help sponsor one in your area, get a hold of us! Contact Michael at michael(at)kidwind.org.