[CORRECTIONS] KidWind a new event at WNY Tech Wars

Submitted by Shawn Reeves
2010-09-28 12:48:27

The wind tunnel used at Tech Wars.

About a dozen teams from schools and non-school groups came to Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY, this May to see how well their wind turbines would fare in a wind tunnel. This event is known as the KidWind Challenge, and has occurred across New York State for two years.
Andy Lueth, representing KidWind, brought the wind tunnel, a box about 1.2m x 1.5m x 2m, equipped with 4 fans, an electric load, and meters. Andy read meters with a computer, measuring the voltage across the resistive load over 60 seconds. Turbines with higher energy-generation over those thirty seconds got higher scores, but judges also awarded points for design, craftsmanship, and accompanying materials and explanations.
For the most part, students built the turbines in school, or in the case of Batavia’s Boy Scout Venture Crew 7, in after-school meetings, not at home with parents.
Pamela Urbanek, a teacher at Clarence Middle School said “next year I would like to get the parents involved.” Linda Jones and Chris Mierzwa, leaders of the boy scout crew from Batavia, noted that the project taught values of “problem solving, learning problem solving skills. Also engineering skills, some electric, trial and error, patience. We believe that they’ll qualify for the electricity merit badge when this is done, and possibly a venturing hobbies award. They’re also learning about the technologies that other students brought here today.”
About the value of preparing for the KidWind Challenge, tech teacher Donald Kress of Pioneer High School had this to say: “I think there’s a lot of value to hands-on projects, especially with engineers. I used to work construction in the old days, a lot of the big complaints were that engineers didn’t have a lot of hands-on practice with anything, big or small. They were book-taught in college and never picked up any tools before in their life. For the kids to get their hands in and actually create and build, I think that’s a great experience for them.”
One of many interesting, beautiful, and successful designs at Tech Wars.

Ms. Urbanek noted ”I think the design process in this entire unit is excellent because the kids try out different designs with their blades. They can very easily and cheaply create ten to twenty different designs using different materials. We used all recycled...donated materials; it was cheap, it was fun, and they really learned a lot by taking readings, using multi-meters to see how much power they were producing.”

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