Monday, January 12, 2015

Learning About Windmills - STEM fun!

One of my fellow teachers and I have been taking a STEM class to help us integrate STEM into our curriculum.  As part of our class, we have been very lucky to receive a variety of resources, but our favorite so far has been a KidWind kit!

With the kit, our students have been able to design their own windmills with the following purposes:

1. A design that will lift the most weight.
2. A design that will create enough power (electricity) to turn on a small light bulb.

We started our lesson by allowing the students to play with the kits, designing windmills as they built them.

As they watched each team try out their designs, they made lots of observations and developed several theories.

Once they tested a few out, it was time to plan some re-design based on the observations they had made the day before.

I loved how some of the students used tools we had used in previous lessons (rulers and using centimeters) as they wrote out their plans.

Some used prior knowledge.

Here is a video of some of our students lifting washers with their windmill:

Our winning engineers who lifted the most weight.  They were so proud!

Here are some students creating electricity with their windmills.

You can order these kits here (you could also use it as a Donors Choose project!).  Or you could try to make a similar kit to the one shown below.  Our instructors from the STEM class ran our school's science night and brought these versions with them. They used wood dowels, closet rod, PVC pipe, swimming “noodles” cut 3 inches wide, a washer, and hot glue to make them.  

They poked barbecue skewers into the pool noodle and taped paper plates to them to make their windmill panels.

Have you integrated STEM into your classroom?  I'd love to hear what you've done!  If you have a blog post about it, be sure to leave a link in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. When I saw your pics of the kids working on their windmills, I thought of another blog I read last week that stressed the importance of engagement. I had just done a REALLY engaging lesson I found at called Be a Polar Bear (under the winter_animals.pdf). It has the kids smearing on the shortening to mimic blubber. Fun to do!


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