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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Designing Windmills

Scholars participated in an EIE (Engineering is Elementary) unit where the final design challenge was to build blades that would turn a rotor and pick up weights.

We began this unit by reading the story, Leif Catches the Wind.  

 This book helped scholars investigate lots of objects that 'catch the wind'.

This story also helped to build background knowledge to answer questions: What is technology? What is wind technology? What is a machine? and What is a mechanical engineer?

Scholars then began investigating the properties of 'wind catchers' as they designed and created sails and tested them to see if they would catch the wind.

The final design challenge was to design and create windmill blades that would spin on a rotor and lift weights.  Scholars relied on what they had learned in designing and building sails to imagine the possibilities and plan their windmill designs (the first two stages of the engineering process). Then it was on to the design stage.
These are the first designs:

Scholars learned a lot about materials and their properties as well as design techniques at our first testing session.
This design was very successful. It spun around the rotor very quickly and was able to pick up 4 weights in the cup!

The next stage in the engineering process is the improve stage. Scholars applied what they learned in the first round of testing to their second windmill design.

These are the second designs.

The last stage of the engineering process is share. Scholars shared and tested their windmill designs with their families at Cannon's Family STEM night.

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