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A student competitor makes the final adjustments to his blade design for the annual KidWind challenge.
Students from all over the state congregated at Crook County Middle School last weekend to demonstrate their innovations and designs in harnessing the wind.
Crook County Middle School hosted the competition last Saturday for the First Annual KidWind Challenge. KidWind is an internationally-recognized organization in K-12 renewable energy education.
“It went well,” commented Crook County Middle School science instructor Fred Hisaw.
He and the teachers from the science department at CCMS were the inspiration behind launching the project at the middle school.
KidWind holds workshops in more than 40 states, as well as Canada, Costa Rica, Chile, Ireland, Taiwan, Australia, and the Caribbean. They use a formal, standards-based curriculum called WindWise, which is also utilized by thousands of teachers across the county.
Hisaw saw an opportunity to bring the project to CCSD, and applied for the grant from Facebook. The grant provides the materials and curriculum for students at both the middle school and high school to build a wind tunnel, mounts and wind turbines, and generators and voltage meters to see how much energy is being generated by their design. The students and their teachers spent time designing and constructing their own wind turbines, with the goal of creating a device that was efficient, elegant, and highly-functional. Each team was judged according to three main criteria, including turbine power performance, turbine construction, and knowledge of wind turbine topics.
The event Saturday was supported by Prineville Facebook Data Center through a local community action grant of $15,000, along with a matching grant from Bonneville Environmental Foundation for $15,000.
There were 18 middle and high school teams from across the state competing against each other, including competitors from East Tillamook Elementary, Heppner Middle and High School, Crook County Middle School, and Ochoco Elementary Grade School.
CCMS had two teams, Fox Hawk and Sparkly Wind, which placed in a three-way tie for second place with another team from East Tillamook Elementary School. Another CCMS team, The Wild One — placed third. Ochoco Elementary also had the youngest team in the event, with students from Pam Bourland’s class, Cole Hanes and Jakob Ryan. They received Judge’s Choice. The day’s top honors went to Heppner Middle School and Heppner High School.
“It was a good experience because our kids got to see a lot of different designs on blades, and they were fascinated with gearing and how much that kicked up the output for the generators for the kids who had those,” said Hisaw.
He said that it was a good experience for all the participants and they all had a good time. Given the opportunity, he said he would definitely do it again.
“It’s a great opportunity for the kids, and opens a lot of doors for them,” Hisaw added. “I would like our high school teachers to have the opportunity to get trained, and the elementary ones also.”
For next year, Hisaw said that he would get more information out to other districts, since there was not any participation by any other Central Oregon schools. The Oregon KidWind Challenge was open to all Oregon middle and high school students, although they had participation from elementary schools.
Coby Hanes, who coached the Ochoco Elementary team, said that the reason the judges selected Cole Hanes and Jakob Ryan for the Judge's Choice Award was the fact that they were the youngest participants in the entire state.
Quoting the judges, Hanes repeated, "The reason we have selected Cole and Jakob for the Judges Choice Award, is that I was grilling them about their scientific process, and why they chose a three-blade design, they responded, defended their science, and knew what they were talking about.”
Hanes said that at their last teacher conference, he asked his son Cole’s teacher Pam Bourland what he could do as a parent to help keep Cole engaged.
“I knew she has 27 other students, and has to do what the district mandates,” said Hanes. “Shortly after that, I saw the KidWind project announced in the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce newsletter, and knowing how much Cole (his son) loves science, I contacted the KidWind director for Oregon.”
Hanes noted that the boys only had about a month to get a working wind generator going, but he was confident that with some mentoring they could pull it off.
Hisaw said that the KidWind project and competition was a good opportunity for students to do the investigation of scientific method and application.
“They came up with the design and they would go and try it. Some worked and some didn’t, and they would go and try to modify it — whether it was changing the angle of the blades or completely designing the blades to come up with a different thing.”
He said the cycle of testing and designing was a good experience for the students.
The students also had to document their process. He emphasized that the project provided for a lot of different learning styles.
“They could see results very quickly,” he said. “It gave a hands-on activity for a lot of kids who aren’t real book-oriented, and they really need the more active type of hands-on learning to help them get it set in their head. A number of those kids came through really well, and were some of our better designers.”
For more information about KidWind go to www.kidwind.org.