Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy from wind into mechanical energy which is then used to produce electricity. Wind turbines look like giant windmills and are an increasing source of energy around the world. How wind energy is harnessed to produce electricity is a complex process, but there are science projects on wind energy available for elementary school, middle school and high school students.
You can do an experiment that demonstrates which pinwheel configurations are most sensitive to a wind source. For this experiment, you will build a few different variations of pinwheels as representations of wind turbines. Using an electric hair dryer as your wind source, you will test each kind of pinwheel by stepping back from it so the wind from the dryer reduces its force on the pinwheel. You will then measure which pinwheel can spin with the least amount of wind by judging how many steps back you took from each pinwheel before it stopped moving.
Middle School Project
Like pinwheels, turbines react in different ways to the direction and force of wind. The amount of power a turbine creates varies due to the fluctuations in the wind source. For your science project about wind energy you can build a horizontal axis wind turbine that will lift a small amount of weight a few feet off the ground. In this experiment, you will have to use some simple scientific equations about force, mass, and gravity to illustrate how energy is transferred.
Descriptive High School Project
Show the pros and cons of wind energy as compared to other sources of energy. This is a low cost project that relies on your research and presentation skills more than your ability to conduct an experiment. People have been harnessing wind energy in one way or another for centuries, but using wind energy as a source of electricity has grown in popularity and visibility as an alternative source of energy. For your project, compare and contrast all forms of energy including coal, nuclear, solar and fossil fuel for their value, the resources they use and their impact on the environment.
Mechanical High School Project
Use model aeroplane propellers to conduct an experiment about increasing the efficiency of wind turbines. Build an hour glass-shaped cover to put around the turbine determine whether or not more power is generated with the cover than without it. For your experiment, use fans as your wind source and calculate how much energy is generated with the propeller turbines covered and uncovered. You will need a power source and some assistance when showing your project to successfully present this wind energy science project.