James Madison University

K-12 Education

The Center for Wind Energy promotes K-12 education through administering the Wind for Schools program in Virginia, by hosting the annual Virginia KidWind Challenge, and by supporting K-12 student projects.

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Wind for Schools

Wind Powering America sponsors the Wind for Schools project to raise awareness in rural America about the benefits of wind energy while simultaneously developing a wind energy knowledge base in future leaders of our communities, states, and nation. The basic structure of a Wind for Schools program includes the creation of a Wind Application Center at a university where wind energy education will be infused into the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. Additionally, a state facilitator is appointed to reach out to K-12 schools (host schools) to encourage the implementation of a small wind turbine at the school to increase awareness and education about wind energy. Schools not only get an amazing new technology as a teaching tool but are also trained on curricula to incorporate this technology and its data into the classroom. It is important to note that this program does NOT give you a wind turbine, the program is in place to help facilitate turbine installation and will help schools understand the process and find funding sources to help offset the cost of the system.

Currently there are 11 states with Wind for Schools programs. Virginia was one of five states to join the Wind for Schools program in 2010, along with Arizona, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Here in Virginia we understand that our wind resource is very patchy and is limited to mainly mountain ridges and the coastal and offshore regions. However, when a wind installation is intended to increase awareness and education, the economics of the program become less important.

We encourage any school that is interested in beginning a discussion of renewable energy to consider incorporating a wind turbine at their school. We work with schools that already have wind turbines, schools that want wind turbines, and schools that want to be part of the program by collecting wind data.

See details about all the different ways you can get involved with the Virginia Wind for Schools program.

Solar Panel Loans

In the summer of 2014 the Center had a number of old solar panels (link to pdf of spec sheet) available for loan to educational institutes (schools, museums, non-profits, etc.).  Those interested in a loan were asked to fill out an application indicating how many panels they would like, what they would use them for, and what the impact of their project would be on students.  Six schools were selected to then develop a detailed installation plan, and when approved a pick up date was scheduled.  This program was successful in getting schools and other educational institutions to think about the potential for solar energy and we hope to be able to offer a similar program again in the future.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list and receive an email when more panels are available for loan.

KidWind Challenge

The KidWind Challenge is a wind turbine design competition for middle and high school students. Teams of two to four students incorporate engineering and science to build powerful small-scale wind turbines and compete with other students from around the state to generate the most electricity. This event is a chance to get students involved and excited about alternative energy and sustainability. On top of gaining teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills, students will learn key scientific concepts during their constructions. This is a great opportunity that we hope you’ll take advantage of! For more information about the challenge and the complete rules, go to the KidWind website.

In 2017, Virginia will be hosting three Regional Qualifying Challenges.  All of these Challenges are made possible through a generous grant from the Dominion Foundation.
IMAGE: Dominion Logo

Below are the dates and locations of each of the Regional Challenges:

  • Saturday, March 18th – Brock Environmental Center, Virginia Beach
  • Saturday, March 25th – George Mason University, Volgenau School of Engineering, Fairfax
  • Saturday, April 8th – Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, Clifton Forge

In addition to the Challenge, this year we are offering a Bonus Challenge for teams.  These activities will not affect the overall scores of the teams but will potentially earn them a separate award.  The middle school division will be tasked with creating public perception posters that will address a common misconception that would arise during the development of a wind farm.  Posters will be judged by the attendees of the event.  The high school division will be challenged with developing a demonstration turbine that incorporates systems controls such as yawing, pitching, and/or braking.  The demo turbine controls will be judged by a team of experts and scored using a standard rubric.  Full Bonus Challenge rules will be provided to teams when they register.

Registration for all Challenges will open during the Fall semester – Check the KidWind Challenge page frequently or contact us to receive an email when registration opens.

Again, this year, the top three teams in each division at each of our Virginia Challenges will be invited to participate in the National KidWind Challenge in Anaheim, CA in May in coordination with the American Wind Energy Association Windpower 2017 Conference.

We will be hosting a Winner’s Review Event at JMU on April 29th to help qualifying teams prepare for the National KidWind Challenge.

NEW this year, we will be offering a First-Year Coach Mentoring Program as an alternative to past KidWind Challenge teacher workshops.  Educators interested in coaching a team for the first time for a 2017 KidWind Challenge event will be paired with a JMU student in either Engineering or Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) to work with you as a mentor and/or co-coach.  As part of the Mentoring Program, coaches will also receive a KidWind Challenge starter kit (includes a generator, hub, dowels, multi-meter, alligator clips, and a resistor board).  We will only be accepting six coaches into the program in this first year – one middle school team coach and one high school team coach from each Challenge region (Eastern Virginia, Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia).  Please contact us by November 30th to request to participate in this new program.

For more information or questions or if you would like to be put on our mailing list, please contact us.

Learn more about ways that your company or organization can help support the KidWind Challenge in Virginia by being a sponsor, exhibitor, judge, or volunteer for one of our events.

See the results of previous Virginia KidWind Challenges.

K-12 Student Projects

Many schools have courses with a more open curriculum and a lot of these classes are focusing more on project-based learning. With that, we get many requests for ideas for student project related to wind energy. We are very happy to help come up with real-world issues in wind energy that students can work on.

Some examples of student projects that we have advised are:

  • Analysis of wind data from a school’s meteorological tower or weather system
  • Energy audits of the classroom and developing a plan for renewable energy at the school
  • GIS mapping of ocean space offshore of Virginia for siting offshore wind turbines

Please contact us if you are interested in developing a project related to wind energy or renewable energy in general.