Wind Turbine Blade Design Part 3: Testing & Communication

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SWBAT evaluate a model wind turbine and communicate their results.

Big Idea

After designing and building their turbine blades, students test them and communicate the results.

Getting Started

In this third part of four lessons on wind turbine blade engineering design, students complete their initial round of testing and communicate their results. This then leads into a redesign and additional testing to improve their blades for writing their final reports.

Student goals for this lesson:

  • Continue utilizing Engineering Design Cycle to test, evaluate and improve turbine designs
  • Leave time for Design Review/Assessment

Essential Questions:

  1. What’s the most efficient way to design wind turbines in order to maximize the production of electrical energy?

Teachers should have some background knowledge on energy, energy consumption in the US, renewable and non-renewable energy sources, causes of wind, wind farms, engineering design process, electrical circuits, calculating electrical power, measuring wind speed, calculating power in the wind.

Science Materials Needed:

  • KID WIND Turbine kits
  • 3-speed 20” Box Fans
  • Materials to build with (card board, foam core, Blue Core ¼” thick Dow protection board 3 Insulation, available at most Lowes’s Stores)
  • Wood dowels (1/4”)
  • Tape, cutting mats, utility knives, mini-mitre box and saws, glue guns, glue, sand paper

 Science Tools Used:

Multimeters, tachometers, digital protractors, anemometer, metric ruler

Downloadable Lessons from The NEED Project 


10 minutes

For the third part of this project, students move into a redesign phase. After they have tested their initial designs and collected some data, they should stop and reflect what they have learned so far, questions they have generated, additional information they want to know, as well as next steps. 

To facilitate this discussion, begin class by letting your students know that as they finish up their initial testing they need to summarize in writing what they have found out about their designs with regards to electricity generated. Data charts are placed at the front of the classroom for each group to report out the electrical output they measured for each stage of the testing.

Each group should make time to meet one-on-one with the teacher. At the conclusion of this meeting plans for the next stage of their design should be discussed.

Once you've given these directions let students return to work and make yourself available to meet with groups as they are ready.


50 minutes

During each one-on-one meeting with students listen to their results and ask them what they think the next steps should be in their design. If students are struggling with how to improve the amount of electrical output from their blades, I usually direct them to look around the room and consider other students designs who might be getting a higher output. I encourage students to communicate to prove to learn from one another. I also draw their attention back to the readings and research.

You may encounter students who are really struggling at this point. I try to assess these groups early on and address any issues that arise such as poor communication or delegation between group members, lack of focus, procrastination, ideas that are way off base or too wild to produce measurable results.

I wrap up summarizing what I heard talk about and the next steps that they are going to take before turning them loose to begin work on the redesign. If they are considering a new design altogether, I ask them to go back and either modify their drawings or create new drawings. These must be approved by me before construction begins on new blades.


10 minutes

I evaluate each group's progress at this point by assessing their test results and their team dynamics. I provide coaching, both on how to improve their designs as well as what's going well and what could be improved about their team.

This project is as much about the group dynamics of working in a team to achieve a common goal as it is learning about the design process and the science goes into the engineering of the wind turbine blades.

Below are samples of student data from their journal. My expectation is that they know to create their own data tables and collect data as they test. You can see how this student approached the task below.



Project Summary

30 minutes

Once students are finished with their testing it is time for them to start writing their Wind Turbine Design Report.

I provide them with directions, a Wind Turbine Design Report Grading Rubric and a sample template. We go over these documents and answer any questions they may have. 

In addition they create a presentation to share with the class.