Learning about wind not blowing your students away??? Don’t worry it’s not exciting for my students either and wind energy has lost its luster due to our world taking a greener approach to energy (which is a good thing don’t get me wrong just not for my lesson’s previous WOW factor). So as I was searching through the internet for new innovative ways that we as a society are harnessing the energy of the wind I came across wind powered racing! Holy smokes, that’s new to me! So the gears in my head began to grind, smoke poured out of my ears, and my newest STEM activity was born!!! May I present to you the Wind Race Challenge!!!
This challenge had my students pumped to learn about wind, aerodynamics, and the engineering design process. They were so excited to build and test out their race cars, it really brought out the competitive spirit in all of them.
I started off by teaching the basic concepts of wind, we discussed wind energy, and other ways we can harness the wind’s energy to our benefit. I guided the discussion towards vehicles and what if they were powered by wind and a discussion erupted within my classroom. We read an article about the current contenders for wind powered vehicles that several companies have been creating and how they are practical or impractical based on their designs. We left the lesson here for the day and I waited until the next day to present them with their problem.
I came into class ready to go and presented my students with their business proposal. They were hired by the Windeville car company to create a new innovative race car solely powered by wind. They had certain requirements and I gave them a budget for materials. My students then got to work planning and budgeting to figure out a final design for race car.
I opened the Windeville Store and had the students spend their Windeville dollars on materials. Giving the students actual tangible money caused the students to be more aware of their spending and not be as hasty with their purchases. This also was a great experience for students to manage money and learn about budgeting. They soon began selling partial materials amongst themselves and trading materials to get better supplies. It was awesome seeing them problem solve and practice their real world skills.
As for the creation of their actual cars this lead to some conflict. Opinions classhed and pouting commenced when group members did not get their way. This is where middle school gets a little tough they are still working on teamwork, cooperation, and listening skills. We stopped the activity and talked about what it means to have creative differences and sometimes what we think is best is not always the best for a project and we must listen and include all opinions. This helped and my students were able to get back on track and build some pretty neat cars.
We tested their creations and had some great results. My students were so proud of their creations we talked about what flaws their designs had and the students were allowed to improve their cars and try again. This is SOOOO important, I literally cannot stress this enough. Give your students time to improve their designs and try to make them better do not just stop after testing them once. The students used whatever lefover money and materials that remained to improve their car and in the end had a really sturdy car that worked great. They were excited and proud of their creations.
This project can be modified to fit you and includes a virtual version if your students are not in person. Feel free to change the materials, prices, car design, or make additional challenges like having them create the entire car from scratch on their own. The possibilities are endless and provides a whirlwind of opportunities. Click here to find this resource on my TPT account.
P.S. Reviews/Comments are awesome and always appreciated on TPT and my blog. They help others like yourself find my resources and spread a love for STEM.