Two Kansas teams were among the winners at the national KidWind Challenge held recently in Houston, Texas. The Oxford Air Sharks from Oxford High School won three awards: National Champions, Power Output, and Wind Tracker Champion in the high school category. In the middle school category, The Electric Four from Lebo Homeschool Co-Op took home the Rookie Award. Eighteen states were represented in the competition.
Teams from Wheatland High School, Sterling High School and Beloit Junior High School also earned a chance to compete in the national event. To qualify, each team had to first capture one of the top two spots in their age division at one of four regional competitions then place in the top three at the KidWind state finals held in Topeka.
“I can’t say enough about this middle school group and their enthusiasm and devotion to excel on this project” said Mike Tweedy, coach of the Electric Four team. “They represented Kansas well with their true fascination and conviction about renewable energy. They designed it, built it, competed with it and gained the knowledge to prove they were true competitors.”
The event is fun as well as educational providing lessons in physics, engineering and environmental science as students build a device that converts moving wind into energy. To prepare for competition, the teams study wind power then build a turbine using the design and materials of their choice. During the challenge, each team’s turbine is put to the test in a wind tunnel. Teams are judged on their knowledge, design, and documentation as well as performance testing in the wind tunnel.
This year 159 students participated in Kansas KidWind competitions compared to 49 last year. Organizers attribute the growth to several factors.
“By offering regional competitions throughout the state, more schools were able to participate,” said Lynn Retz, KCC Energy Director. “In addition, interest in the science of wind energy is growing due to the volume of wind farm construction in Kansas communities.”
Plans are currently underway to add a fifth regional competition for 2020. More information about KidWind can be found at https://kansasenergyprogram.org/kidwindchallenge.