Wind for Schools Portal/7-8 Curricula

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Wind for Schools Curricula: Middle School 7 - 8

Compared to elementary school students, middle school students come to school with more analytical skills and can to synthesize more and varied data sets, extracting ideas or concepts of what the data is illustrating. While they may have heard about wind power, climate change, and other related ideas, they may not totally understand these concepts and how they are related to one another. In middle school we can start to build a foundation around these concepts and weave a more complete narrative using different types of science to connect these concepts and ideas.

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Getting Started:

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 Concepts and Standards

Making Connections

Climate Change, Power Generation and Renewable Energy

Middle school is a great place to start having students make connections between human-induced climate change, what is driving this process, the reasons for it, and the steps we need to take if we want to reduce carbon emissions. Lessons that start to build vocabulary and understanding will go a long way toward helping students see the connections. The NEED Project investigates all kinds of power generation technologies and sets the stage for delving more deeply into wind.

Weather & Wind

Earth Science

Middle schools students extend their basic understanding of weather and begin to dig more deeply into macro-level concepts around global weather patterns, the causes of wind, and weather patterns over longer periods of time (climate). This provides a great opportunity for students to start looking at more detailed wind data, measuring wind, and exploring wind patterns.

Turbine Design and Function


There are a number of science standards in middle school for which students need to participate in experimental design, data collection and analysis, and optimization of models and devices. Classroom wind turbines (with gearboxes, blades, and generators) provide a robust of area of study for students to engage in meeting these standards through wind turbine design activities.

Forces and Magnetism

Physical Science

Middle school students more deeply explore forces on objects and this can be extended to windmills and wind turbines. Students also begin to learn more deeply about magnetism and electricity and we can extend that exploration to how generators transform the wind energy to electrical energy.

 Learning Pathways

Expand your Understanding

If you have time, you can explore these resources to help you better understand wind energy before you start working with your students. Some of these resources may be appropriate to share with middle school students.

Exploring Climate Change & Introductory Student Readings

Clean Net
NEED Intermediate Wind Guide


PBS Video, Wind Power
Department of Energy, Wind 101
Student Energy Wind
Switch Energy Project
History Channel, Modern Marvels-Renewable Energy
BrainPOP, Wind Episode


American Wind Energy Association
Department of Energy, Wind
NREL, Learning About Wind
National Geographic, Wind Power
Union of Concerned Scientists, Wind Power

Books/Articles on Wind Energy Concepts

Wind Energy for Dummies by Ian Woofenden
Wind Energy Basics
Home Power Magazine

Introductory Lessons on Power & Energy

WindWise Lesson #2
NEED Intermediate Wind Guide

 Explore Materials

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Day by Day
  • Day 1: Why Wind Power?
  • Days 2-3: Measuring Wind, Understanding Wind, Where Is It Windy?
  • Days 4-5: Siting a Wind Turbine at School

  • Offshore Wind
    3 resource(s)

Energy From The Wind Student Guide.pdf
This lesson plan details the wind locally and around the globe, how to measure the wind and wind turbines. It includes information for both students and teachers.
2 resource(s)

Students will use a “Spec Sheet” to learn the basic characteristics of the Skystream 3.7 turbine used in the Wind for Schools program.
1 resource(s)

This engineering education toy allows young builders to construct six different fully functioning replicas of renewable energy machines, two at a time. It consists of more than 280 assorted parts made of durable plastic. These include rods and connectors for creating a wind-powered lift, a sail car, and a water-powered grist mill that actually move. Building instructions and a comprehensive teacher's guide aligned to national educational standards, including ITEEA, NSES, NCTM, NGSS and Common Core, are included.
1 resource(s)

Discover advanced concepts of wind turbine technology, including gearboxes and generator construction (with the GenPack add-on). Students can use the blades they design to generate electricity, lift weights, and pump water. This kit is perfect for grades 7–12 and college. All you need to add is a wind source, basic tools, and imagination!
1 resource(s)

This kit allows young scientists to test a variety of blade designs, generate electricity (0.5 –3 V range), and lift weights. The Basic Wind Experiment Kit has all the materials you need to get started understanding wind power. Great for classrooms, as well as individual science fair projects.
1 resource(s)

MacGyver windmills.pdf
Windmills are the ancient ancestors of modern wind turbines. To understand how wind turbines work, one must first understand a basic windmill. This lesson will help students understand how a windmill captures the energy of the wind and converts it into usable mechanical energy, which is the basis for understanding modern wind turbines. Students will use the engineering design process and the scientific method to design, build, test, and improve their models.
4 resource(s)

Students will work in teams to build what they believe will be the most efficient model wind turbine in the classroom. They will calculate and measure power and tip speed ratio and design experiments to explore the variables that can affect turbine efficiency.
4 resource(s)

  • Day #1: Why Wind Power?
  • Day #2/3: Energy Transformations (WindWise Lesson #1 )
  • Day #3/4: Measuring Electricity (Understanding Voltage, Current and Power)
  • Day #4/5: What is a Generator? (WindWise Lesson # 9)
    • Extensions
      • Wind Turbine Math (NEED Activity, Energy from the Wind Guide)
      • Wind Turbines and Blade Design (NEED Activity, Energy from the Wind Guide, WindWise Lessons #10 & #11)
        4 resource(s)

Students will learn to determine the amount of theoretical, mathematically calculated, power in the wind reaching a turbine and compare it to the actual production of the school turbine. Students will use the data to determine the efficiency of the school turbine. They can then use this information to discuss the positives and negatives of the school wind turbine.
3 resource(s)

  • Day #1: Why Wind Power?
  • Day #2/3: MacGyver Windpower
  • Day #4/5: Wind Turbines and Blade Design
    • Extensions
      • KidWind Challenge
      • WhiteBox Learning Design a Turbine Software
      • Energy Transformations - WindWise Lesson #1:
      • Can Wind Power My Classroom - WindWise Lesson # 7 & NEED Wind for School Lesson
        6 resource(s)

Tip Speed Lesson Plan.pdf
Students will be able to compare tip speeds of a SkyStream 3.7 with the rated speed of the same turbine and will be able to discover blade speeds at various lengths (intervals) from the hub to the tip.

Students will be able to create a table to show the change in speeds at the different intervals of length from the hub and will discover that maximum blade speed is at the tip. Students will verify that maximum tip speed is at full radius.

Students will be able to write and illustrate an article that describes the difference in speed at the various intervals addressed in the assignment.
5 resource(s)

Students use a power monitor to estimate the energy used by all appliances and lights in the classroom and use the wind turbine’s power curve to determine if that demand can be met through wind energy.
3 resource(s)

Students conduct a web quest to learn about energy efficiency and conservation, storage, and renewable and non-renewable forms of energy. They then create mock budgets to promote various solutions to bridge our demand for electricity with the intermittent supply of wind and solar.
1 resource(s)

Wind-farm-policy-simulation lp.pdf
Youth will role play as various stakeholders in their community to determine how they would approach the locating of a utility-scale wind farm in their community.
1 resource(s)

Youth will use a worksheet to determine what the actual and projected costs that would in incurred for the installation of a wind turbine at a school. A possible extension is to look a wind farms in Colorado and determine the economic costs of building and maintaining a wind farm.
3 resource(s)

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