Wind for Schools Portal/Getting Started on a New Project
Getting Started on a New Project
Students at James Madison University's Wind Application Center identified the following best practices to help K-12 schools interested in installing a wind turbine and incorporating wind-related lessons into curricula.
Best Practices in the Development and Sustainability of School Wind Projects
Identify K-12 Schools Suitable for Turbine Installations
- Conduct a GIS analysis. GIS analysis is a first step in characterizing the wind resource. The wind maps provide an estimate of the annual average wind resource.
- Plan a marketing effort. Plan a marketing effort to inform the school and community about the project. Send e-mails to school faculty and administration and the departments of education, and include inserts in school newsletters. Involve parents as well.
- Conduct informational sessions. Bring wind energy activities to the classroom, exposing teachers and students to the technology. Potential activities include blade design challenges, pinwheel and wind sock design, creation of wind machines, and blade testing and analysis.
- Organize teacher trainings. Teacher training provides teachers with a foundation to teach wind energy curricula in the classroom. Teachers who participate in training are often interested in the turbine installations at their schools and also share their experiences with other teachers and schools.
- Participate in outreach events. Participating in conferences, exhibits, and other outreach events informs the surrounding community about the school wind project.
Engage the K-12 Community and the School Administration
Engaging the K-12 community and the school administration is critical to the project. The K-12 community and the school administration act as champions; without their support, a wind turbine installation will likely be unsuccessful.
- Conduct teacher workshops and training. Teacher trainings and workshops provide the necessary resources for wind energy-related curricula. Without them, installing a wind turbine at a school would have little to no educational value. These workshops and training events provide support for the school and engage the K-12 community and school administration.
- Conduct classroom visits. Classroom visits provide lasting impressions for teachers and students. They are important because the information provided can be discussed in the students' homes, which engages K-12 parents. It is also important that the K-12 community and administration see how wind energy curricula can be included in the classroom.
- Facilitate loaning/borrowing of educational resources. Loaning and borrowing educational resources provide teachers with access to materials that they would not otherwise have. This not only involves teachers at K-12 host schools but schools throughout the state that are trying to bring wind-related curricula to the classroom.
- Plan special events. Special events offer an opportunity for the K-12 community and administration to understand wind energy topics and the value of a wind turbine at a particular K-12 school. Special events include the KidWind Challenge, science festivals, STEM nights, etc.
- Identify a school champion. A school champion makes the development of a school wind project much easier because he or she serves as a direct contact for the project in the K-12 school.
Develop Relationships with the Local Community
Developing relationships with the local community is important to the success of school wind projects. It is important that the community supports the installation. Often the community will donate time and materials to install the systems; these relationships are important to the success of the project.
- Attend school board and town hall meetings. Attending school board and town hall meetings allows the team to dispel any misconceptions about the wind project. It also allows the community to see how a project will directly benefit science and math education in the K-12 schools. Attending school board and town hall meetings allows relationships to be developed with the local community.
- Participate in local events. Participating in local events helps to build relationships with the community. Types of events include those geared for children, but also look for opportunities to educate adults about the various aspects of wind energy.
- Facilitate news coverage. News coverage is important to developing relationships with the local community because it allows those who are not directly involved in the wind project to learn more about it. News coverage may include short TV segments and articles in the local newspaper.
Involving the community in the wind project installation can facilitate understanding of and involvement in the development and success of the project.
- Participate in events (speaking, attending, etc.). Participating in events demonstrates community involvement and allows sharing of wind energy information and expertise.
- Organize meetings on wind energy-related topics. Organize events to share wind energy information and expertise and to keep the community up to date.
- Lead project site tours. Site tours are an important component of bringing wind energy topics to the forefront.
Research Your Wind for Schools Project
If your school is planning to install a small wind turbine, use the resources below to research your project.
The Small Wind Guidebook
Learn about turbine sizes, the basic parts of a small wind electric system, costs, how to find installation and maintenance support, and how much energy a system will generate.
Wind for Schools Funding Spreadsheet
See examples of school turbine costs and funding mechanisms for school wind turbine projects. Schools included in the spreadsheet used funding from the following sources: federal and state agencies, non-profits, local utilities, local businesses, wind energy companies, in-kind donations, as well as school funds. These projects demonstrate ways in which financial obstacles to turbine installations can be overcome.