By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Agustina Orozco & Arthur Kimball watch wind turbine spin
Taking second place in the national KidWind competition was not exactly a breeze. For the students at Desert Mirage High School, it took hard work and experimentation for their model wind turbines to run circles around the competition, says Arthur Kimball, who facilitates the school’s GREAT Academy.
GREAT stands for GReen Energy And Technology, and students built the contraptions as part of the academy.
“The absolute best thing about the experience is that students learn about wind energy and demonstrate their knowledge through their own building of a turbine,” says Kimball. “The hands-on project was a welcome diversion from the textbook theory of wind motion and energy.”
Kimball is proud of the team members, Arturo Gutierrez and Jesus Gutierrez (no relation). They competed against some elite private schools in the national KidWind competition in April. While in Washington, D.C., for the competition, Kimball made sure students visited the Smithsonian Space and Aeronautics Museum — which has huge propellers — as well as other landmarks.
The KidWind program is designed to stimulate interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by having students design model wind turbines. The windmills are less than 3 feet tall, and students hook them up to a voltmeter to measure how much electricity is generated. The faster they go, the greater the electrical output. Students put their creations in a wind tunnel and adjust the angle of the blades so they can determine factors resulting in the highest speed.
Before going to D.C., the team from Desert Mirage High School won second place in a Coachella Valley competition. Since then, the students have gone to elementary schools to teach younger students about wind power and turbine building, says Kimball.
Teachers in many schools are powerless to find time for students to create hands-on projects, but Kimball is pleased his administration is supportive.
“It’s fun, but it is also a way of preparing our students for college and career readiness.”
The school is located in the town of Thermal near Palm Springs, where temperatures reach 130 in the summer. That makes interest in alternative energy, well, personal, says Kimball, a member of the Coachella Valley Teachers Association.
View video of Arthur Kimball.