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Wind Turbine Model

In this activity, students see how the movement of wind can be used to produce other kinds of energy.

People have been using wind as a source of power for centuries. The earliest wind-powered machines used wind to drive water pumps or grain mills.

A pinwheel's blades are pushed around by the wind. It is similar to a windmill or a wind turbine. 

A wind turbine generator uses fan-shaped blades to catch the wind. As the blades turn, they spin a generator which drives electric current, turning kinetic energy into electrical energy. The electric current is sent through transmission and distribution lines to a substation, then on to homes, businesses and schools.

Objectives

  • Build a model of a wind turbine.

Materials

  • Per Student:
    Pinwheel template
    brass fastener
    straw

    Per Group or Pair:
    scissors
    single hole puncher
    lightweight decorating material

Key Questions

  • How is the pinwheel similar to a wind turbine?

What To Do

  1. Cut around the outside of the pinwheel pattern on the dotted lines (pinwheel template can be found on following page), then cut inwards on each of the dotted lines.
  2. Using a single hole punch, punch out the circles on each corner of the pinwheel and the black hole in the centre. (Tip: fold the pinwheel gently in half to reach the centre circle.)
  3. Punch a hole in the straw.
  4. Push the fastener through the hole in the straw and then through the centre hole of the pinwheel.
  5. Gently bend one corner of the pinwheel and put the hole over the fastener. Try not to crease the pinwheel as you bend the corners inwards.
  6. Repeat for the other three corners.
  7. Once all four corner holes are on the fastener, bend the tips of the fastener loosely to hold the pinwheel together.
  8. Blow on your pinwheel. If it doesn’t turn, the fastener may be too tight.

Extensions

  • Before you make the pinwheel, write three facts that you have learned about different alternative energy sources (solar, wind, water, biomass) on each quarter of the pinwheel. Flip the paper over and draw images that represent each of the four types of sustainable energy.