Kids show off skills to harness the wind - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Kids show off skills to harness the wind

Students put the final touches on their wind turbine projects at KidWind competition in Estherville, Iowa. Students put the final touches on their wind turbine projects at KidWind competition in Estherville, Iowa.

The next generation of engineers are already in training. Several middle school students took part in a program called KidWind.

Some Siouxland students have been hard at work over the past several weeks constructing their own wind turbines.

They've tested the machines on their own, but on Wednesday they took the ultimate challenge at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville.

"We're in first right now but not everybody's tested," said Matthew Hill, 6th grader at Emmetsburg Middle School.

"I think we did pretty good," said Kennedy Heying, 7th grader at Spalding Catholic.

The turbines were placed in front of four fans. A computer program then calculated how much energy each turbine produced. The experiments are part of the KidWind event. It's funded by a grant from the Iowa STEM initiative.

"Getting students excited about careers and opportunities in science and engineering, I think at a fundamental level, this is a great competition and event for that," said Joe Rand, Director of Training and Outreach at the KidWind Project.

Each group of students received the same wind turbine hub, testing device, and generator from their science teacher. The rest of the design was up to them.

"We had a broken fan. So, I took the fan apart and then I cut off the plastic blades from it, and so the blades are actually recycled, plastic blades from an actual box fan," said Hill.

Although construction might look easy, students say it's anything but that.

"We were going to do gears, and it was frustrating doing that because we couldn't find all the parts and stuff that we needed," said Corbin Saathoff, a 6th grader at Emmetsburg.

But, no matter what obstacles they faced, students say the benefits were well worth the effort.

"Instead of having a curved blade, a flat one works just as well, just to put it at a right angle. That's one of the main things I've learned," said David Grady, 7th grader at Spalding Catholic.

The top group at this competition went home with $150 and a gold turbine trophy.

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