Big Idea

In this activity, students will explore how the wind acts as a force on wind turbines to provide renewable energy to our communities.

prototype wind turbine being turned on, dial component turned and circle building block spinning

Take Action

In the ‘Take Action’ section of the lesson, they will use the Climate Action Kit to build their own wind turbine. They will code the dial component to turn the wind turbine in both directions.

Learning Goals

Students will…

  • Describe how wind turbines generate electricity through unbalanced force and energy transfer
  • Consider the benefit of using wind power
  • Build a basic wind turbine project using the breakout board, dial, and continuous servo motor in the Climate Action Kit
  • Explain how input can allow us to interact with and control the output of projects

Prerequisites

This lesson provides a strong real-world application and hands-on activity to supplement the following Grade 3-5 Next Generation Science Standards:

  • Balanced and unbalanced forces (3-PS2-1)
  • Conservation of energy and energy transfer (4-PS3-2, 4-PS3-4)
  • Renewable energy sources (4-ESS3-1)

We recommend students have a basic understanding of balanced and unbalanced forces before starting this lesson.

Materials

Per 1-3 students:

Get to Know the Content

  1. Make sure you’ve completed our ‘Getting Started with the Climate Action Kit’ course
  2. If it has been awhile, review the kit components featured in this lesson:
  3. Review the lesson, particularly the following thinking routines from Project Zero (Harvard Graduate School of Education):

Big Idea (15 minutes)

Learn how wind turbines power our communities through the application of unbalanced force and energy transfer.

Students will:

  1. View a diagram of a wind turbine at work and complete a ‘See, Think, Wonder’ reflection to activate prior knowledge
  2. Review concepts like unbalanced push force and energy transfer

Take Action (45 minutes)

Build your own wind turbine with the Climate Action Kit!

We’ve provided 3 ways students may build the project to support scaffolding and differentiation in your classroom: ‘Use’, ‘Modify’, and ‘Create’.*

ActivityDescription
Use
Students will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build & use their wind turbine.

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a wind turbine with the Climate Action Kit
– explain how I can make my wind turbine move

Resources
Tutorial
Final Code
Modify Students will follow a step-by-step tutorial to build their wind turbine and modify its code!

Success Criteria
I can:
– build a wind turbine with the Climate Action Kit
– make changes to my code to learn how it works
– change the speed and direction of my wind turbine

Resources
Tutorial
Final Code
Create
Students will work in small groups to research wind turbines and design a prototype with the Climate Action Kit.

Success Criteria
I can build a wind turbine with the Climate Action Kit that:

– stands tall
– is sturdy
– has blades to catch the wind
– spins in both directions

Resources
Blank Project

*Irene Lee, Fred Martin, Jill Denner, Bob Coulter, Walter Allan, Jeri Erickson, Joyce Malyn-Smith, and Linda Werner. 2011. Computational thinking for youth in practice. Acm Inroads 2, 1 (2011), 32–37.

Use the following criteria to assess student learning. Students can:

Conversation

  • Describe how wind acts as an unbalanced force on wind turbines
  • Describe the transfer of energy during electricity generation with wind turbines
  • Explain the purpose of each smart component and building block in the main build (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Explain the purpose of the input and output blocks in the starter code (Use, Modify, Create)

Observations

  • Methodically test and debug their code to ensure it functions as intended (Modify, Create)

Product

  • Add comments to the code to demonstrate their understanding of each block (Use, Modify, Create)
  • Add a new event block to make their wind turbine turn in the opposite direction (Modify, Create)
  • Design their own wind turbine prototype that satisfies provided criteria (Create)
  • NGSS
  • CSTA
  • UN SDGs

Next Generation Science Standards

Grade 3-5

3-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.

4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.

4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.

Computer Science Teachers Association Standards

Grade 3-5

1B-CS-01 Describe how internal and external parts of computing devices function to form a system.

1B-CS-02 Model how computer hardware and software work together as a system to accomplish tasks.

1B-AP-15 Test and debug (identify and fix errors) a program or algorithm to ensure it runs as intended.

1B-AP-16 Take on varying roles, with teacher guidance, when collaborating with peers during the design, implementation, and review stages of program development.

1B-AP-17 Describe choices made during program development using code comments, presentations, and demonstrations.