Nick Fetty | May 1, 2015
Middle and high schools students in Iowa showed off their engineering skills during the Keystone Wind Energy Challenge last week.
Seventeen teams competed in this year’s challenge which took place in Elkader. Students designed and built wind turbines using their engineering skills and household materials such as snow shovels and PVC piping. Judges scored each design based on four criteria: (1) Energy Produced, (2) Turbine Design, (3) Written Documentation of Design, and (4) Knowledge of Wind Energy Subject Matter. Designs were tested in a 48″ X 48″ wind tunnel with wind speeds of approximately 3.5 meters/second.
“You can feel the excitement in the room as the turbines are being tested and the energy output numbers pop up on the big screen,” challenge coordinator Jason Martin-Hiner said in an article for the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald. “I think it’s great to see teams clapping, cheering and acknowledging the effort everyone has put into their projects just like you would in many extra-curricular activities. You even see teams talking afterwards and sharing ideas about how to improve designs and come back next year.”
This event is part of the Iowa STEM scale-up project in cooperation with KidWind, a Minneapolis-based organization which according to its website aims to “develop programs and resources to foster a generation of responsibly informed thinkers and involved doers for a brighter energy future.” KidWind sponsors competitions nationwide with more than 2,500 students taking part last year.
A recent report by the American Wind Energy Association shows that Iowa added more than 2,000 wind energy jobs in 2014 and more than 23,000 were added nationwide.