PUYALLUP, Wash. – Blowing into pinwheels became a lot more than child’s play for budding engineers eager to learn more about wind power. Nearly 1,000 youth across Washington took part in the fourth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day this month to explore how to create clean, sustainable sources of energy.
 
Using paper cups, tape and sticks, students built model turbines during the Wired for Wind experiment.
 
4-H National Youth Science Day is designed to spark an early interest in science and help youth gain necessary technical skills to compete in the global marketplace. In an effort to combat a national shortage of young people pursuing science college majors and careers, 4-H is aiming to reach 1 million youth nationwide by 2013 via science, engineering and technology programs.
 
“I liked working in a team to design the wind blades and making changes to see what would happen,” said 13-year-old Philip of Puyallup. “I’ve seen the turbines along the Columbia River and it was interesting to make a smaller model and get an idea of how they work.”
 
Students explored blade pitch variables, testing them by attaching blades to a motor and a voltage meter. By blowing on their model turbines with a fan, the young people could see how much energy was produced.
 
“Harnessing and utilizing sustainable, renewable energy sources is becoming more important as we strive to help preserve our natural resources,” said Linda McLean, WSU Colville Reservation-Ferry County extension educator. “Educating our youth helps ensure that our precious resources are managed and cared for for many generations to come.”
 
Students also determined the best location for wind farms by calculating wind power and studying wind data and maps.