The Power of Wind (SOL 2.1, 3.2 & 3.11)

Grade Level: 2-3
Subject: Science
Time Frame: 1 hour 45 minutes
Concept: Inquiry
Topic: Resources


Understanding different energy sources are important because people depend upon various types of energy to live. Students need to investigate important energy concepts in order to develop a basic understanding of how energy affects their lives. Students need to build an understanding about renewable and non-renewable resources and begin to make connections with these resources among their lives as well as plant and animal’s lives.

Goals: The student will:

· understand the concept of wind energy.
· investigate wind energy properties.
· work cooperatively with peers.
· apply graphing knowledge to results of experiments.

SOL: Science:

2.1 – The student will plan and conduct investigations in which:

– simple physical models are constructed.
– pictures and bar graphs are constructed.

3.11 – The student will investigate and understand different sources of energy. Key concepts include: the sun’s ability to produce light and heat energy; natural forms of energy (sunlight, water, wind); fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) and wood; electricity, nuclear power; and renewable and nonrenewable resources.

3.2 – The student will investigate simple machines and their uses.



The student will be able to:

1. Identify at least one component, in writing on their data collection sheet, that will change the efficiency of their windmill .
2. Compare and contrast, in writing, at least one sentence, on their data collection sheet, solar energy vs. wind energy.
3. The student will be able to both verbally and in writing identify wind power as a source of energy, evidenced by journal writing.
4. Verbally formulate a hypothesis on how to create a “windmill”.


The Student will be able to:

1. Participate in cooperative learning as part of a research group.
2. Think about the benefits of wind power in terms of preserving our natural resources.


The Student will be able to:

1. Manipulate given supplies in a safe manner.
2. Build some prototype of a windmill using supplies provided.
3. Attend to the lesson and take an active part in his or her learning.


· Wind is created by cold air touching warm air
· Cold air is more dense than warm air, therefore, warm air tends to “float” up (less mass – less gravity pull).
· The sun warms the air during the day, the air cools off during the night. This combined with the earth rotation, mountains, valleys, and oceans create wind.
· Did you know – Denmark gets 13% of its electricity from the wind!
· Turbines are modern windmills (they look like propellers).
· Wind is a renewable resource – it will not be used up.
· Disadvantages to wind energy – wind does not always blow, wind changes direction

Content Sources:

·Science Anytime, Harcourt Brace, 1995
·Discover Science, 3rd grade Science book, Scott Foresman
·Science Encyclopedia, DK publishing, 1998
·Bill Nye website –


· Journals
· Data / Graph Sheets for each student
· For each pair/trio:
Dowels (1 lg, 1 sm)
Thumb tacks
Pencils w/erasers
Crayons and Markers
Pinwheel pattern p. 116 in Science Art
Kites (1 per student)

Advanced Organizer: 10-15 minutes

Concept Development: Have students in cooperative groups, paired randomly and homogenously by colored paper, create a poster of what they already know about wind power. (This can be used as a pre-assessment tool.)

Pinwheel power Art Activity (Science Art p. 100)

With this familiar toy, students observe the wind at work.

1. Give each student a copy of the pattern.
2. Have students cut out square. Decorate the pinwheel pattern on both sides and cut along the dotted lines.
3. Place the pattern on a work surface on top of a piece of folded newspaper.
4. Bring each corner with a star into the center. Make sure the stars all line up, one on top of another. Hold the corners in place with your finger.
5. Push a pin through the stars, being careful not to crease the paper blades.
6. Push the pin into the side of a pencil eraser.

Invite students to blow their pinwheels. Use questions to guide exploration of wind power. Have student record predictions and observation in their science journals.

– What makes your pinwheel turn?
– Does it matter how hard you blow or where you aim your breath? Try from the side, from the front, and so on.
– What if you flattened the blades of your pinwheel? How would this affect its turning power?
– What if you put the pinwheel on top of the eraser instead of on the side?
– Would a pinwheel with more blades work differently? Join together two pinwheel patterns and attach them to the pencil eraser to find out. (Have extra patterns available for this.)

Procedures & Activities: (50-55 minutes)

1. Introduce topic – Wind energy. (10 minutes)

2. Prior knowledge query: Ask questions such as

· What do we use wind for? (windmills, turbines, sailboat, hot air balloons, hang-glide, planes – glide, ultra-lights….)
· Where does wind come from? (cold air meets warm air, the cold air pushes the warm air – wind).
· How is wind similar to sun (solar) energy? (renewable, can’t use up, not consistent or predictable)

4. Pose question: Using wind energy only, how can you wind up this string? (Step 1 of instruction model).
5. Introduce process

· Each part will be timed.
· Students will pair/trio with another student.
· Discuss how to wind up the string using the supplies and wind energy. (Watch to see if the students are coming up with ideas)
· Students will make notes of ideas to share with others.

6. Make the pair/trio using colored paper. Distribute supplies.

· Students may handle supplies, but not assemble at this time.

7. Students discuss ways to assemble the supplies to use wind power to wind up the string. (5 minutes)
8. Students should write down ideas to share with others.
9. Match 2 pair/trios together, (4-6 students to a group) with 2 sets of supplies
10. Pair/trios of students will share their ideas, take notes, make additions, subtractions or modifications.(5 minutes)

20-25 min

11. Students build the best (cooperative) model from their ideas (about 10 min)
12. Time how long it takes to wind the string 4 times. This will give everybody a chance to time and blow (wind). (about 5 min)
13. Record results and info on data collection sheet. (about 7 min).

Closure: (10 min)

18. Each group should share their findings and results.
19. Query what worked better, what differences worked
20. Have students return to the same groups they were in at the beginning during the pre-assessment concept development stage, and create another poster about what they now know about wind power.

Class Discussion/Journal write (10 minutes)

How we can use wind power as a source of energy in our lives.

Examples you’ve seen. Things we use that require wind.

Pros/Cons of wind power.

Kite flying (20 minutes)

What makes kites fun??? WIND POWER. Without wind, kites would be a piece of plastic or paper we drag around on the ground with a string. Wind gives kites the energy that brings them to life.

Take students outside to fly kites and discover first and the effects wind can have.


Cognitive objectives:

1. Collect, read and evaluate data collection sheet for idea on changing the efficiency of their windmill.
2. Collect, read and evaluate data collection sheet for at least one sentence solar energy vs. wind energy.
3. Collect, read and evaluate data collection sheet to compare the graph vs the data collected for accuracy.
4. Collect, read and evaluate data collection sheet for description of their “windmill” creation.

Teacher observations for:

5. Participation in research group.
6. Attention to lesson and taking an active part in learning.