I spent last week in Fort Collins, Colorado at the Powerhouse Energy Campus taking a training called REcharge Academy with 25 other educators from areas throughout North America. We toured NREL’s wind technology center, visited Vesta’s blade manufacturing activities, and created fun stop motion movies about wind misconceptions all while learning some great lessons to teach wind and solar energy.
Some of the wind activities included making a sail car, designing turbine blades to test in a wind tunnel, building a MacGyver wind mill and building an offshore wind turbine. These activities fit well with the Wind for Schools outreach that I already do. My favorite was the MacGyver windmill activity which I look forward to incorporating with my lessons for students around the state. The offshore wind turbine platform build (see right) was also fun, especially since it was quicker to build than I thought it would be and the design myself and my partner ended with used the least amount of “money” and still survived the “waves” in the fountain where we tested it.
Some of the solar activities included building a solar rover, testing a solar pump, a solar scavenger hunt, and designing a solar house. I learned the most from designing a solar house because it incorporated basic circuits, where I have limited education, but also demonstrated how multi-disciplinary the lesson was.
Touring the NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) Wind Technology Center was a highlight of the entire training. One of the projects they are working on involves a blade being built using reusable materials, made in part from recycled PETE plastic. In the photo to the left, I am standing in front of the mold they used with the green and brown blade in the background. They test even larger blades than this for for durability and strength in addition to the turbines they have on site for field testing.
REcharge Academy happens every year – check out their website here to learn more and keep an eye out for the training next year!
Special thanks to NREL and the Alaska Community Foundation for funding my trip!
Written by Colleen Fisk, Energy Education Director