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Crafting a Wind Turbine in a Single Day: Berkeley High School Students Get it Done!

By Kate Graham -- The Green Academy is a small learning community at Berkeley High School where students participate in interdisciplinary and experiential learning projects related to ecology and sustainable energy. This is one of five schools participating in the PG&E New Energy Academy, a program created in 2010 as the result of a partnership between PG&E and the California Department of Education.

Green Academy teacher, Mr. Jamie Robertson, invited the blueEnergy education team to lead a wind turbine workshop for students in his Energy Physics class. Mr. Robertson asks his students to look at conceptual physics through the lens of what it has to teach about sustainable energy. Students consider questions such as: How does one define energy? Why is it used? Why isn’t it free? What alternative energy options are currently available? The blueEnergy wind turbine workshop provided a hands-on opportunity for students to explore the answers to such questions.

On May 23rd students gathered with blueEnergy educators in the Berkeley High School metal shop. Setting up production stations between iron sculptures, collections of ceramic work, scraps of metal and a wood fired kiln, blueEnergy staff members and volunteers led students through the stages of creating a wind turbine system. Mathias Craig taught students to use a drawknife, hammer and chisel, plane, and sand paper to sculpt blades from Douglas Fir. Pauline Caumon and Phil Homer helped students carefully insert high powered magnets into the turbine’s rotor. Andreas Karelas demonstrated how to coil copper wires and solder coils together to make a generating stator, and Christian Casillas gave presentations on wind power theory and function.
Sawing wind turbine blades can be tricky -
Mathias gives a lesson to two fast learners

Copper wire coiling station with Andreas
 The morning session moved along in high gear breaking only for a few slices of pizza before pushing through the afternoon heat to complete the turbine. Mr. Robinson and Mathias closed the workshop with a final group reflection and Q&A session, and then invited students to take turns rotating the wind turbine generator. Cheers erupted as the wind turbine proved its effectiveness by powering a small light bulb and water pump.

The wind turbine will be displayed on campus to serve as a symbol for all students to consider the many possibilities associated with alternative energy sources. The Berkeley High School community should be proud of the Green Academy class for pulling off the enormous feat of creating a wind turbine in a single day.

Who said it couldn't be done?
Proud students stand with their new wind turbine

Check out more photos from this incredible day here.

If you are interested in learning more about blueEnergy wind turbine workshops please contact Kate Graham at:

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