Students will be able to:
1) distinguish between nonrenewable and renewable energy
2) understand that wind has energy and the stronger the wind, the more energy it has
3) identify ways of harnessing wind
KEY CONCEPTS AND VOCABULARY
Wind Energy – moving air molecules; a renewable source of energy
CONNECTION TO THE STORY/DISCUSSION
Why is it beneficial to harness the elements? That’s because our supply of fossil fuels is decreasing and since they are a non renewable energy source, they will eventually run out. Thus, another form of energy must be used in order to gives humans a continuous supply. Renewable energy sources will not run out. Some examples are wind and solar energies.
Wind energy is one of the simplest forms of energy to understand. Wind energy is renewable because the wind constantly blows around the world due to pressure differences in the atmosphere. Wind is currently being harnessed in wind farms made up of windmills. When the wind blows, it spins the sails of the windmills to produce electricity. This provides a good alternative to fossil fuels, but it takes up a lot of space, is not very efficient, and hurts the ecosystem.
- 1 box
- 2 bamboo skewers
- 4 styrofoam balls (1.5" or 2")
- 1 straw
- box fan
- construction paper
- aluminum foil
Demo 1 - Win With Wind
How can you get the ping-pong ball/styrofoam ball through the obstacle and into the cup without touching it, touching it with another object, or moving the table? Have a bunch of obstacles (random objects) on the table and place a ping pong ball on one corner and a cup on the other. Your goal is to get the ping pong ball into the cup without physically touching it. If the ball falls onto the floor, you must start all over. To make it even more exciting, try to do this within 3 minutes.
Demo 2 - Wind as Bubbles
Blow some bubbles. You can think of the air as a bunch of bubbles. If there is wind, air particles, like the bubbles, move in the direction of wind. When the air particles hit a light object, like a tissue, it moves. Therefore, wind has energy. If the wind is strong, it can move bigger, heavier objects. If the air just stands still, there is little to no energy.
In this demo, the goal is to try to blow a quarter of a tissue five feet. Have a starting line and a finish line. To make this demo exciting, have a time limit of 3 minutes or have a race to see who can get the tissue across 5 feet the fastest.
Demo 4 - The Wind is so Strong!?
You can build a simple wind turbine with a simple pin wheel and a motor. Attach the pin wheel onto the shaft of the motor. When you place a box fan in front of it, the pinwheel will spin and turn the motor and this produces electricity. Several simple wind turbines can be combined together to light up an LED.
A sail car is an example of a wind-powered car that harnesses wind energy to move. In this experiment is to build the fastest sail car using the materials provided. Use a box for the body, 4 Styrofoam balls for the wheels, and skewers are the axes. Then attach a sail to your car using paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, a plate, etc. and test it out.
There will be two challenges for your sail car:
The Distance Challenge -- Place your sail car in front of a box fan and see how far it goes.
The Speed Challenge -- Race your sail car with others. You can use hand fans or blow on your cars to see whose sail car is the fastest.
How far did your sail car travel in the Distance Challenge?
How can you make your sail car travel faster in the Speed Challenge?
How did you harness wind in the experiment?
How does wind have energy?
Why do engineers want to harness wind?
What are some ways to harness wind?
Why aren’t we using sail cars today?
Here is the link to the one pager, which summarizes the experiment in one sheet of paper: Wind Energy One Pager.
Read a teacher's personal account of using this lesson plan at Teacher's Review: Harnessing Wind Energy.
Christopher Hong is a sophomore electrical engineering student at The Cooper Union.