Just because a team might make the best model wind turbine doesn’t always mean it ends up as the winner of the annual state KidWind Challenge.
Ashley Rapsinski, Wind for Schools program coordinator at Penn State, said teams must also know a thing or two about the apparatus: what its objective is and why it functions the way it does.
Comprehension accounts for up to 35 percent of a team’s overall score.
On Wednesday, 25 teams of students in fourth grade through 12th grade from around the commonwealth met at the HUB-Robeson Center on Penn State’s campus to compete against each other in two grade categories.
The KidWind Challenge was established in 2002 by a teacher in Monterey, Calif.
Rapsinski said it allows students to tap into the sciences by designing a wind turbine that adequately creates power, while also tapping into their creativity.
Each year, Penn State facilitates the state competition, and the winners then move on to the national competition.
This year, two teams represented the Bald Eagle Area School District — the only Centre County district at the event.
One was a team of Howard Elementary School fifth-grade students from teacher Amber Buchanan’s class. They designed a wind turbine that measured 69.19 milliwatts.
Participating in this year’s event was Buchanan’s idea, but it was made possible with the help of retired Bald Eagle Area administrator Marsha Sackash, who volunteers at the school.
Buchanan said enrichment time was used to help students Alice Crane, Riley Langs and Eddy Simoncek create their turbine through a trial-and-error process to see which materials worked best to create the maximum amount of power.
The other team from BEA was made of three middle school girls — seventh-grader Gwyneth Jones and eighth-graders Cassie Fults and Jillian Packer — under the direction of GAMES club adviser and high school science teacher Maria Kuba.
GAMES — Girls Active in Math, Engineering and Science — is an extracurricular activity at the middle school for girls interested in the sciences.
The team, sponsored by the AAUW of State College, created a wind turbine by using hot glue to install spoons on a series of dial rods.
The spoons, Cassie said, would help capture wind the best if they were positioned at a 50-degree angle.
The other aspect of their project was using recycled materials.
“They wanted to create something from used items, so in addition to the spoons, they also looked at soda bottles and then (studied) to see what worked the best,” Kuba said.
But a theme among the two teams wasn’t just to win.
“It’s nice to win, but it’s also about leaning from it and seeing what we can do better next year,” Gwyneth said.
The national KidWind Challenge will be held May 24-25 in Anaheim, Calif.