Wind for Schools Portal/College Curricula

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Wind for Schools Curricula: College

Getting Started

As students transition from high school to college, we can continue to address more complicated concepts with wind characteristics and generating electricity from wind power. Similar to high school, in college these concepts can be addressed in different classes like physics, engineering, biology, and environmental and earth sciences. The concepts and resources listed here are appropriate for first and second year courses.

Expand Your Understanding

 Concepts and Standards

Physics, Environmental Studies


General Energy Concepts and Where Does Wind Fit?

  • How do we generate electricity?
  • What are the consequences of electricity generation?
  • How do we measure energy and power?
  • How can electricity generated by wind impact climate change?
  • What is wind power’s potential?

Physics, Earth Science


What Is Wind?

  • How do we measure wind?
  • What causes the wind?
  • Where is it windy?
  • Why does the wind matter?

Physics, Engineering, STEM


Turbine Design and Function

  • What are the major parts of a turbine?
  • How do these parts work together on a functional turbine or windmill?
  • Let’s construct and test your own turbines.

Biology & Environmental Science


Siting and Impacts of Wind Power

  • What criteria are used to site wind farms?
  • How do wind turbines and wind farms impact people and wildlife?

 Most Popular Activities

Shorter Explorations

If you have 1 to 3 days and want to explore wind energy, here are the most popular lessons that we use with students.

MacGyver Wind
Using identical bags of “junk,” students construct windmills that are designed to lift weights.
Turbine Blade Design
Students explore blade design, power output, and optimization on model turbines. A variety of lessons from NEED, KidWind & Vernier explore this.
Energy Assessments of Classrooms
Students explore power consumption and then select turbines that could power their classroom. (A variety of lessons from NEED and KidWind address these ideas).
Siting Wind Farms
Using analytical skills and a variety of data, students must find the best location for a wind farm and explore impacts to wildlife and stakeholders. (A variety of lessons from NEED and KidWind address these ideas).

 Explore Materials

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At the end of this lab:
  • Students will be able to understand density is a physical property of something.
  • Students will be able to understand that air density changes because of pressure and temperature.
  • Students will use appropriate technology and mathematics to make investigations.
  • Students will be able to compare their calculated air density with the constant (1.225 kg/m³) in the wind turbine Power equation.
  • Students will use volume to find density of certain objects.
    1 resource(s)

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  • Day #1: Why Wind Power? (WindWise Unit #1 or NEED Intro Readings, NEED Activities – Exploring Wind Guide)
  • Day #2/3: Life Cycle Impacts of Power Generation (WindWise Lesson # 12: How Does Wind Energy Affect Wildlife?)
  • Day #4/5: Impacts of Wind Turbines on Birds and Bats (WindWise Lesson # 13: How Does Wind Impact Birds? and WindWise Lesson #14: How Does Wind Affect Bats?)
    5 resource(s)

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  • Day #1: Why Wind Power? (WindWise Unit #1 or NEED Intro Readings - NEED Activities – Exploring Wind Guide)
  • Day #2/3: Measuring Wind, Understanding Wind, Where Is It Windy? (NEED Wind for School Lesson and WindWise Unit #2)
  • Day #4/5: Siting a Wind Turbine at School, Windy (NEED Wind for School Lesson )
  • Extensions
      • Offshore Wind (Wind Wise Lesson #17)
        5 resource(s)

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Students explore power consumption and then select turbines that could power their classroom. (A variety of lessons from NEED and KidWind address these ideas).
2 resource(s)

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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)

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Course links and schedule for online professional masters in Renewable Energy and Sustainability Systems at Penn State. Some course links lead to syllabi and others lead to open access course materials which are available through Creative Commons licensing. This material is graduate school level.
1 resource(s)

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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)

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Using identical bags of “junk,” students construct windmills that are designed to lift weights. Explore the engineering behind blade design and windmill construction and participate in the MacGyver Windmill Challenge.
1 resource(s)

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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)

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Basic aerodynamic theory is rooted in the actuator- or rotor disk model. In this lesson, we are going to begin with a power curve of a modern pitch-controlled wind turbine, then continue with the basics of the actuator- and rotor disk models.
1 resource(s)

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In collaboration with DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, renewable energy consultants AWS Truepower developed an educational package to teach the basic functionality of the siting software Openwind®, a tool used to design and assess utility-scale wind farms. The resource link leads to an FTP site; if you cannot access FTP sites, contact your IT department and then contact Openwind Support. Published in December 2017, the four lesson plans in the package are best suited for college students and guide users through increasingly complex software functionality and wind energy concepts. No previous geographic information system data knowledge is required. The package includes 19 pre-configured workbooks and a demo version of the software, limited to a single geographic region. The workbooks are intended to teach students the basics of wind farm siting and introduce elements of the landscape that affect wind flow and turbine performance. DOE provides funding support for the Wind for Schools project, and 12 Wind Application Centers located at universities participating in the program are using the lesson plans. The KidWind Project is working to develop an adaptation for middle school and high school students.
2 resource(s)

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Wind turbine aerodynamics and wind resource statistical analysis videos.
1 resource(s)

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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)

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  • Day #1: Why Wind Power? (WindWise Unit #1 or NEED Intro Readings - NEED Activities – Exploring Wind Guide)
  • Day #2/3: MacGyver Windpower (REcharge Labs Activity, MacGyver Wind)
  • Day #4/5:Wind Turbines and Blade Design (NEED Activities,Exploring Wind Guide and WindWise Lessons #10 & #11 )
  • Extensions
    • Energy Transformations (WindWise Lesson #1)
    • Can Wind Power My Classroom? (WindWise Lesson # 7 and NEED Wind for School Lesson)
    • KidWind Challenge
    • WhiteBox Learning, Design a Turbine Software
      9 resource(s)

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Using analytical skills and a variety of data, students must find the best location for a wind farm and explore impacts to wildlife and stakeholders. (A variety of lessons from NEED and KidWind address these ideas).
2 resource(s)

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Students explore blade design, power output, and optimization on model turbines. A variety of lessons from NEED, KidWind & Vernier explore this.
3 resource(s)

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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)

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Student learn how to calculate wind energy and power. Calculating the energy (and later power) available in the wind relies on knowledge of basic geometry and the physics behind kinetic energy.
1 resource(s)

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XTurb-PSU is design and analysis code used at Penn State. It is maintained and developed by Sven Schmitz and his students. Here you will find several videos to help train you to use this code for wind turbine design and analysis.
1 resource(s)

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