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Hands-on science.

(No Lab Required) After reading "Sea Breeze" (p. 12), try this activity to learn how much the location of a wind farm matters to its performance.


In this activity, you'll make your own wind farm. If a turbine is relatively close to mountains or buildings, would a short or tall wind turbine be best?


ruler * 1 manila folder * scissors * 3 C-cell batteries * tape * 3 paper plates * worksheet with windmill design* * 3 thumbtacks * 3 erasers * hair dryer * textbook * Teachers: For worksheet, see page TE 6.


1. Pick a workstation near an electrical outlet. Using the ruler and manila folder, cut three rectangles with the following dimensions: 11.4 centimeters by 22.8 cm (4.5 inches by 9 in.); 19 cm by 22.8 cm (7.25 in. by 9 in.); and 24 cm by 22.8 cm (9.5 in. by 9 in.).

2. Take the first rectangle and wrap the 22.8 cm (9 in.) edge around a battery and tape it together. You now have an 11.4 cm (4.5 in.)-tall weighted base for your wind turbine.

3. Repeat step 2 with the other 2 batteries and rectangles.

4. Using the paper plates and pattern from the worksheet. make three windmill faces.

5. Press a thumbtack through the center of a windmill face and into the end of an eraser. Be sure to leave a little space so that the windmill face is free to rotate around the tack.


6. Tape the eraser to the top of the 11.4 cm (4.5 in.)-tall turbine base so the windmill face can spin freely.

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the other two bases.

8. Prop the textbook up on its long edge to simulate a mountain ridge, and place the three wind turbines in a row 30 cm (1 foot) behind the book.

9. Plug in the hair dryer. Hold it 15 cm (6 in.) away from the book, and turn it on at a low setting. Observe how the wind turbines move.

10. Experiment with wind turbine placement. Try to create a wind farm in which all of the turbines spin rapidly.


1. In the original setup, which turbine spins the fastest? The slowest?

2. Based on the experiments, what was the best location for each turbine? Why do you think this is so?

3. Can you improve the turbine's design? Test your design to see how well it works.


Name: --

Use the pattern below to make the windmill faces for your wind turbines to complete the hands-on activity on p. 14. Trace this design onto the center of a paper plate. Cut along the solid lines (but don't cut out the center circle!), and then fold the blades up along the dotted lines. Now you're ready to attach your windmill face to the eraser as described in Step 4.




1. In the original setup, the 24 cm (95 in) tall wind turbine spun the fastest. The 11.4 cm (45 in) tall wind turbine spun the slowest

2. Answers will vary.

3. Answers will vary.

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Title Annotation:on wind farms
Publication:Science World
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 11, 2009
Previous Article:Sea breeze: students in Cape Cod harness the wind to power their school.
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