GEMS Third Graders Create Designs to Catch the Wind

Target 1: Student Centered Learning – FWSU students will engage in personalized learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem-solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem-solving and creativity for students and staff.

Students in Ms. Garrett’s third grade class were recently given a design challenge to create their own windmills. These young learners quickly began developing their ideas for how exactly they would catch the wind. They collaborated, designed, and tested their windmills and enjoyed this exciting STEM experience.

Through the design process, students discovered:

  • Wind is moving air that can be harnessed to do useful work. 
  • Windmills transform wind energy into mechanical energy.
  • Wind turbines transform wind energy into electrical energy.
  • Energy cannot be created or destroyed, just transformed.
  • There are many different forms of energy

Windmill Poster

Students needed to solve many design and mechanical problems in order to design and construct their windmill. While all of the windmills could pick up the 20 grams, some were slower moving while other spun fast. This led the class to ask, “Will the faster spinning blades be able to lift more weight?” To find out, the class  picked two windmills to test.

Windmill Test TaylorTaylor had worked diligently on designing and improving her “bag blades”. Her prediction was that by using bags as windmill blades, they could catch more wind and lift more weight. Her blades were unusual. They were not flat, or aerodynamic in any way. During the testing phase Taylor’s blades either moved very slow or sometimes didn’t move at all. Throughout this process she never gave up, and continued to improve on her design.

Windmill Test Derik

Derik’s blades on the other hand were smalland slick and fast right from the start. His teardrop design was similar to the wind turbine blades he had seen. When we finally tested the question; “Will the faster spinning blades be able to lift more weight?” Derik’s windmill picked up an amazing 100 grams but Taylor’s slow-and-steady design picked up 150 grams.

What was equally gratifying was that all of Taylor’s classmates cheered and congratulated her. They were actually rooting for her windmill to defy their assumptions. This unexpected learning made the experience special for the entire class.

Congratulations to all these awesome third-grades on their designs – anyone can engineer!

2 thoughts on “GEMS Third Graders Create Designs to Catch the Wind

  1. Pingback: Thank you Lowe’s for Supporting STEM Education at GEMS! | Franklin West Supervisory Union

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