Looking for a Kid–Friendly Summer Project? Build a Wind Turbine! Keep kids busy during the summer months and throw in some fun safety science learning with this DIY science project. To get the kids excited about wind energy and wind turbines watch the award–winning video Winderiffic with them. Just click on the wind turbine and enjoy the video.
Before building a wind turbine it's helpful to talk about Energy. What is Energy? Simply put, Energy is the ability to do work. It's the ability to move an object by the use of force. Energy causes things to happen all around us.
Look out the window, during the day the sun gives out light and heat energy. At night the street lights use electrical energy to light the way. When a car drives by its being powered by gasoline, a type of stored energy. Even the food we eat contains energy, we use that energy to work and play.
There are two types of energy, stored and moving. Stored energy is called potential energy. Moving energy is called kinetic energy. To help visualize the difference between potential energy and kinetic energy try this activity.
Place a pencil on the edge of a counter top, then push it off and let it hit the floor. The moving pencil is using kinetic energy. Now, pick up the pencil and put it back on the edge of the counter top. You used your own energy to lift and move the pencil. While the pencil is sitting on the edge of the counter top, it has potential energy. If you lift the pencil higher in the air, it will fall further – meaning the pencil has more potential energy when it is higher than when it is lower.
A fun way to demonstrate the conversion from kinetic to electrical energy is to build a working wind turbine! Download the instruction sheet and worksheet by clicking here. These include diagrams and a parts list – you'll find the wind turbine can be built for under $25 and you may already have many of the needed parts at home!
A wind turbine is a machine for converting the kinetic energy in wind into electrical energy. Moving air (wind) is used to rotate a machine called a turbine. Inside the wind turbine is an electrical generator. It's the electrical generator that transforms the kinetic energy into electrical energy.
Ready to get started? First let's learn about the working parts of a wind turbine. You can use your downloaded diagrams to help. Once familiar with the parts, it's time to start building! Follow the directions on your downloaded instruction sheet.
After building your wind turbine you can test it by using the kinetic energy (wind) from a fan. Just remember to line up the center of the fan with the hub of the turbine. Using a voltmeter (set to the millivolt DC (mV DC) scale) you will be able to measure the electrical energy!
There you have it – wind turbines convert kinetic energy into electrical energy! And that's not just hot air!
Experiment taken from Safety Smart® Science with Bill Nye the Science Guy®: Renewable Energy. Complete Safety Smart Science with Bill Nye the Science Guy DVD Series can be purchased from Disney Educational Productions, and UL Knowledge Services. For more safety science fun log on to ULSafetySmart.com
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