90 Minutes  |  3rd – 8th Grades


This activity provides an introduction to the sources of renewable energy, primarily focusing on wind power. A presentation will discuss how a wind turbine functions and the benefits and the consequences of building wind turbines in New England. Students will then be engaged in working with their own wind turbines; in small groups of two to four students they will create blades to maximize the efficiency of their turbines.  The blades are fit to the Center for STEM Education’s wind turbines, which are used to either generate electricity via a motor, or lift a weight (box of crayons) via a drive shaft.  Both models can be used to calculate the amount of watts generated by the students’ blades and the speed at which the turbine generates mechanical energy. By adjusting the size (area) of the blades, the shape, angle, and length of arm (radius), students can analyze which designs work most efficiently.

Students will design their turbines with the engineering design process in mind. They will need to brainstorm their ideas and make decisions based on observation and analysis. Students will be able to redesign and modify their existing blades to increase efficiency if time permits.

This activity has highly variable range of levels of intricacy, and can be conducted very effectively with any range of students.

MA Framework Content Standards:
Earth Science: 2. Air is Gas
Physical Science (Chemistry and Physics): Forms of Energy 4+5

High School:
Earth and Space Science: 1.4. Unequal Heating of Earth,  1.5. Revolution Around Tilted Axis2.1. Renewable Energy Sources,  2.2. Carbon Cycle and Effects of Renewable Energy on the Environment, Scientific Inquiries 1-4.
Physics:  2.3 Work as Mechanical Energy2.5 Power as Work per Time.

Lesson Plan:
Wind Turbine Lesson Plan

Wind Energy Worksheet
What is Energy
Wind Turbine Worksheet
Wind Turbine Worksheet – Elementary
Wind Info Page

Wind Turbines Prezi – Middle
Renewable Energy Prezi
Snap Circuits + Wind Turbines Prezi – Elementary