15 OESJ students to compete in regional KidWind competitions

Some students used foam cups as blades in the design of their unique wind turbines. Others used bottles. Or aluminum foil. Or cut up plastic Folger’s Coffee cans.

Among the 13 projects at the OESJ KidWind Challenge presentations in the cafeteria last Thursday, there were also different numbers of blades used on their creations: 3, 4, 6 and 12.

Both of those features – the number of blades and the material used for the blades – most likely had an impact on how quickly and smoothly the turbines turned.

The 50 or so eighth-grade students, who worked in teams along with one high school team, were there to show off their hand-made turbines and with hopes of moving on to the next level: a trip to regional competitions at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica on March 8 and GE in Schenectady on March 17.

Only three junior high teams and the high school team would be able to continue competing, said Katie Walther, the technology teacher who with home and career skills teacher Dolores Hayes worked with the students in creating these projects over the past three months. They combined their classes for this project.

These 15 students are heading on to further competition at SUNY Polytechnic and GE:

One High School team: Jolynn Cedeno, Alex  Ouderkirk and Kyara Nichols 

Three Junior High School teams:  Margaret Christensen, Paetyn Logan Dillenbeck, Jesse Walrath  and Sebastian Ackerknecht;  Emilie Peterson, Cadence Johnson, Magdalena Pellerito  and Mackenzie Barker; Shelby Groff, Skylynn Sargeant, Aeriel Schorer and Rebekah Semple

For the presentations, fans were set up to blow on each turbine. Walther went from project to project taking two measurements: the volts and amps created by the turbines under pressure from the fan air. Multiplied together, that would produce the power output of the turbine.

“The students learned a lot in these few months,” said Hayes. “They learned about working together and time management. They had to do the research and create these on their own. Some of them are very upset today, worried that their projects won’t work. That’s OK. This is all about the learning, learning to make this turbine and learning about it works.”

She assured the students that, in the real work world, it takes a lot longer for engineers to develop projects and to test and re-test them. “Some of you had to take your turbines apart several times and put them back together; that’s what engineers do every day to make sure something works,” she added.

Walther said the bigger goal of the project “was to learn about energy and power, and how to use wind energy so that we use less fossil fuels.”

KidWind Challenge is a national competition. Since the KidWind Challenge began in 2009, 12,000 students have competed at 147 regional events in 19 states, 13,500 teachers have been trained and 77,000 turbines have been constructed.