Monday, June 18, 2018

Kid Wind Challenge goes to 2018 MREA Energy Fair

All packed up and ready to go to Custer, Wisconsin for three days of serious fun, and was it ever!

I had the opportunity to take the Kid Wind Challenge program to the 2018 Midwest Renewable Energy Associations (MREA) Energy Fair and spend three days in the Educators Tent there letting visitors design, build and test their blades in a wind tunnel.

This post is going to take you through the process and let you see a part of what I experienced. As a retired educator I can tell you how it feels when you see kids, parents and grandparents engaged in a hands on learning activity to design, build and test their designs. Then analyze the results, consider multiple options, make decisions of how to redesign then re-test and go through the process several times to achieve higher and higher performance. I will tell you the feeling is priceless!

Upon arrival at the Energy Fair in Custer, WI which covers over 20 acres I found the Educators Tent and set up the wind tunnel and display. At the fair there are several large tents set up where knowledgeable people in the renewable energy field give presentation and conduct workshops for fair goers to sit in on. There are also over 200 exhibitors displaying and explaining their products and services.

On the table you can see the five blue Kid Wind gear heads on towers set up. There were gear ratios of   1:2    1:4    1:8    1:16     and    1:32  for the participants to choose from and work with.

Inside the tent at the table on the right is where the participants shaped their blades, hot glued them to dowels and assembled their rotors to be tested in the wind tunnel. The weather was nice and the tent kept out a little rain one day and shade from the sun was appreciated.

For blade performance testing in the wind tunnel each participant selected what gear ratio KW nacelle they wanted their blades turn. Each nacelle had the same KW 2 watt generator mounted to the gear train. Using Verniers Go Direct Energy (GDX-NRG part number) sensor and a LabQuest 2 to monitor the output (volts, milliamps and Joules) for a 30 second period of time was measured.

Participants ran their blades and recorded the output. Then they could go back and make any changes they though might improve the output, ie. change the pitch, more blades, different gear ratio etc. and test again. It was a challenge and they wanted to see their output go up. When it did they wanted to continue the process and did!

The participant producing the highest number of Joules in 30 seconds each day won a KidWind Basic Wind Experiment Kit (KW-BWX) as shown in the picture.

Another high lite of the experience was Saturday when Josie M. a member of the Darlington middle school Kid Wind Team that went to the KW National competition in Chicago, IL this year. Her team place 5th out of the 40 middle school teams there. Josie helped participants, answering questions and collecting test data.

Being a part of a Kid Wind Team is about a lot more than designing, building and testing wind turbine blades. It is about solving problems, working as a team, learning the knowledge and skills to be successful in anything you want to do. Plus getting out meeting and working with new people. So parents, teachers, administrators and school board members ask yourselves why is Josie, a middle school student from Darlington, WI at the MREA Energy Fair in Custer, WI helping out at the Educator's Tent? Because that is what members of Kid Wind Teams do.

Friday morning, Iana L was the first KW participant. She started out with a 6.47 j output then made some changes and  got up to 15.89 j  She was hooked and made some pitch changes that brought her up to 17.94 j All day long this number held and Iana won the first days KW Kit prize.

Saturday brought in Kaelyn S. Now here was a participant that had her game face on and really got down to business. She saw the new posting on the board and team Kaelyn set her sights high. Her Dad was helping but for sure Kaelyn was the brains of this operation. Calling the shots and making critical decisions that brought their turbines output up to the best for the day. 35.48 j

When Kaelyn saw how her brothers performed with four blades she made the decision to go with 6 blades and a 1:16  gear ratio.

What do you think Kaelyn and her family think about the Kid Wind experience they had at the MREA Energy Fair?

Day three of the fair brought in Charlie D. from Mineral point, WI. Word must have gotten out that there was a KW challenge going on and the leader board was changing every hour. Earlier outputs were McKenna J at 21.47 j then Charlie B. with 27.92 j then Morwyn J coming in with 33.24 j and Carole C. 33.96 j  Competition was in full swing and Charlie D. designed and built this 12 blade beauty that topped them all for the day with a winning 38.22 j by the Sundays closing time of 2 pm and took home the prize KW Kit. And so went the Kid Wind Challenge program at this years MREA Energy Fair...

And then, as Paul Harvey always said, "And now for the rest of the story."

Yes, there is more. Remember Charlie B. with his 27.92 j output on Sunday? He had tried his hand at building a blade set the day before. When he left Saturday he said he was going to come back and try again. Well Charlie B. was a watcher and a thinker. Even though when he came back Sunday the 2 pm deadline had passed and Charlie D. had already won the KW Kit. Charlie B. from Merrill, WI wanted to give it another try. And did he ever! You can see him above working on his 12 blade version.

Charlie B. From Merrill, WI produced 46.93 j the all time high for the three days of the Kid Wind Challenge!

So I have decided to award Charlie B. the first "George Rothlisberg Kid Wind Kit". Charlie is a great example of the KW spirit and determination to succeed. Charlie says he wants to start a Kid Wind team and compete in a challenge in Madison, WI in the 2018-2019 school year. Congratulations Charlie B.

Footnote: George Rothlisberg was a good friend and fellow teacher of mine for many years in the Darlington School District. George was born and raised in Merrill, WI. His family owned and operated a small family grocery store in Merrill for many years. George supported education and was a friend to all the students he worked with giving it his all. Sadly he passed away in 2017.

Thanks to Mike Arquin, ReCharge Labs and the Kid Wind Challenge organization for their support and making this all possible.

More outstanding performers...