SV High School physics students study wind power
SPRING VALLEY -- Students in the Electricity and Magnetism (E&M) class at Spring Valley High School spent the last part of the school year learning about generating electricity from wind, and they began a long-term feasibility study on developing wind power on the high school campus.
The undertaking began last year when Michele Huppert, the physics teacher, wrote a grant to the Spring Valley Education Foundation for a professional-quality, wireless weather station to monitor the wind and other weather parameters continuously, both to supply the data for a wind power feasibility study and for students to study local weather patterns.
When the weather station arrived this spring, Huppert convinced her husband, Eric, to fabricate a bracket to harmlessly attach the weather station to an existing light pole and to donate the Team Oil Travel Center's lift and labor to mount the remote station. Huppert also made a connection with Steve Hintz, an Automation and Controls Instructor at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC), and he agreed to purchase and donate KidWind kits for her E&M students to design, construct and test working small-scale wind turbine models.
The equipment installed by Huppert and the students has worked flawlessly and collected continuous data on temperature, precipitation, humidity and wind since April 15. The weather station and wireless signal repeater are solar powered and mounted 30 feet off the ground on existing poles to minimize the installation expense.
Physics student Carson Klug is leading the effort to analyze the data and research the feasibility of wind power. So far, more than one third of the days have had measured average wind speeds greater than nine miles per hour, which is ideal for wind power.
The table-top wind turbine models donated by Hintz at WITC allowed all of the physics students to put the theoretical knowledge of electricity and magnetism gained over the semester into practice. Students wound coils, designed blade arrangements and gear boxes, arranged magnetic fields, and constructed rectifier circuits for both Savonius and horizontal axis wind generators. They were able to measure the power created by their models under various conditions and even used the energy of wind to light bulbs and play pre-recorded electronic music.
"With the energy crisis in the news, this is a great project to engage students in real problems and potential scientific solutions on the local level. I hope these kinds of experiences inspire my students to pursue careers in science and technology," said Huppert. "Another great lesson for the kids here is about importance of building partnerships to get things accomplished. This would not be possible without the support and collaboration of the SV Education Foundation, the local school board and administration, WITC, Team Oil and motivated students."