Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Illustrating Wind Energy: Pinwheels

Grade Level:

Activity Overview: Where does electricity come from? Electricity comes from energy that is created from a source or a fuel. Wind is one energy source. Kinetic energy, the energy of things in motion, can be found in air’s movement around the world. Humans harness that energy through wind turbines, which convert the kinetic energy of wind into electricity.

Wind is a very powerful source. Think about the strongest winds that you have ever been in, how much did it make things move around you? Have you ever seen wind from a hurricane or tornado move trees, cars, or houses? Wind is a powerful source of energy. So if wind is so powerful, why don’t we use it for all of our energy? There are challenges with harnessing wind energy. Wind is unpredictable, so we can’t control when it happens or how strongly it happens. However, wind is a renewable resource, which means that the resource replenishes itself faster than humans can use it. As long as the sun is still shining, wind will always be blowing somewhere on Earth.

Materials:

  • square piece of paper
  • thin dowel or pencil with eraser
  • push pin
  • scissors
  • beads (optional)

Procedure:

Students build and color a paper kite. The class takes a few moments outside to see if the wind is strong enough to move their pinwheels. Alternatively, students can use the power from their breath to rotate their pinwheels. If the wheel doesn't spin, explain that the air does not contain enough kinetic energy to move any other objects. Similarly a still day is not sufficient enough to move a wind turbine.

  1. Fold the square corner to corner then unfold. Repeat for the other pair of corners. The square should have two diagonal folds across it.
  2. Make a pencil mark on the folded lines about 1/3 from the center.
  3. Cut along the fold lines from the corner of the paper to the mark.
  4. Pull every other point into the center. Stick the push pin through all four corners of the paper. Make sure the pin pokes through the exact center of the back of the pinwheel. The pin becomes the hub of the pinwheel.
  5. Stick the pin into the thin dowel or into the eraser at the end of a pencil. Optional: You can separate the pinwheel from its handle by inserting the pin through a small bead before inserting it into the dowel or eraser.

TEKS

ART.1.2A, ART.1.2C, SCI.1.8D

Adapted from: Pinwheel Instructions

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