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WEST GOSHEN — In a room in the Spellman Administration Building where the school board typically meets, middle school students from the West Chester Area School District instead competed in a wind turbine contest.
As part of the middle school technology program in the district, these students spend time in the curriculum learning about wind turbines, all stemming from a grant received five years ago from The Franklin Institute.
“We started with students building wind turbines a few years back so that they would understand what they were and learn about alternative energy,” said Paul Joyce, science supervisor in the district. “Then we said we should get them to test how well these turbines they’re building are working. It has evolved over a period of time into what we do now, which is the students designing the blades.”
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They are also told at that time that a handful of the best groups will go on to compete against the other middle schools in the district.
“The kids were a lot more involved and excited about what they were doing in the school,” Joyce said. “The excitement level really rose in the classroom because they liked the idea of being able to earn the chance to come here.”
During the district-wide competition on March 15, the groups went through different staging areas to put their blades to the test, starting off in the preparation table before moving on to calculate the area and then onto the testing area.
“We put the blades on these towers and attach the towers to data-gathering devices,” Joyce said. “It actually measures the voltage and the resistance of the wind turbine. The students calculate the area that the blades sweeps on their own and then the data-gathering devices give them the wind speed, the resistance and the voltage. That gets plugged into an algorithm and it gives them the efficiency of their wind blades.”
After the data is collected, it was put up on a screen for everyone to see.
At the end, the groups from each middle school had their efficiencies averaged out to determine the winner.
This year, Stetson walked away the victors and will receive a plaque designed and created by the high school technology students to proudly display.
Everyone else received a certificate for their hard work and for making it to the district competition. Also at the competition, and taking part, was the Baldwin School from Bryn Mawr.
“We met them at The Franklin Institute,” Joyce said. “We met them and this is their first year (involved). We had them as guests.”