KidWind—Complex Wins Competition
On April 12, 20 Virgin Islands students, representing eight territorial high schools, brought nine home-made wind turbines to Charlotte Amalie High School (CAHS) to see whose would produce the most electricity. The atmosphere in the gymnasium was often tense as CAHS pulled ahead in the interview and presentation section, but Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral School made a big jump with its performance in the first wind tunnel tests. In the end, it was the St. Croix Education Complex team that took home the top trophy. CAHS was second place; Sts. Peter and Paul was third.
Karl Knight, director of the V. I. Energy Office (VIEO), nick-named the tunnel, where some of the turbines took a beating, “Mrs. Windy.” Students were able to test their turbines in the morning after the interview section and before they were put in the tunnel to for competitive, production calculations.
Among those attending was Gov. John P. deJongh. He said, “This is an important event because it brings the technology of the future to our students today.”
Knight said, “This brought our smart, technically-minded youth out to demonstrate their innovativeness and ingenuity in the area of wind technology. A lot of valuable educative lessons came out of this project.”
The early visits to the wind tunnel brought a few calamities as turbines fell over or blades came off. But the teams made adjustments and repairs before the real competition began in the afternoon.
VIEO spokesperson Don Buchanan said, “This event was only possible because of the help of local sponsors. Many in our community realize that the Virgin Islands needs to resolve the problem of high energy costs and are willing to support efforts to help those who are ultimately going to solve the problem — the youth.”
The University of Virgin Islands (UVI) worked on the planning of the event. Other sponsors were The Avis, Offshore Energies, Water and Power Authority and Plaza Extra.
St. Croix schools with participating students included Manor School, St. Croix Educational Complex, St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center, and IQRA School. On St. Thomas, they were Charlotte Amalie High School, Sts. Peter and Paul, All Saints Cathedral and Antilles School.
The students were supplied with basic kits for the turbines but were free to use innovative ideas and materials in creating the blades, the gear ratios and the foundations for the turbines. VIEO and UVI staff judged the design of the turbine as well as its efficiency. The wind tunnel operated at a speed of about 5 meters per second.
The Kidwind Project is affiliated with a national program. This is the first year for the program in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Energy Office hopes to expand the program so that in future years the winners from the territorial competition will be able to move on and take part in the national competition.
The mission behind these Challenge Events include:
• Getting students excited about the promise and opportunities of renewable energy—specifically wind power—and its relationship to global climate change
• Foster opportunities for students to build, test, explore and understand wind-energy technology at a manageable scale
• Get students—particularly girls and underrepresented populations—excited about careers in STEM fields related to renewable energy
• Build the capacity of teachers, coaches and other educators to better understand wind-energy technology and development, as well as its promise and limitations
Energy Office Goes to Fourth Grade
For 34 years, in early spring, the governor of the Virgin Islands has declared a week as Virgin Islands Energy Education Week. This year, that week took place April 6-12. Since the inception of this initiative, the V.I. Energy Office (VIEO) has been the lead agency to commemorate the week. In the past, VIEO has usually gone to public spaces and schools to talk to residents about energy efficiency and renewable energy. However, this year the Energy Office decided to do something different, more focused and somewhat ambitious.
Karl Knight, director of VIEO, decided this year that every fourth grader in the territory attending a public school would get a presentation on energy. Long-time, energy-staff member Leila Muller, presently the Grants Program coordinator, was called upon to organize the project. She coordinated a schedule for teams from VIEO and the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) to go to 12 elementary schools, giving at least one presentation per school, sometimes up to three depending on the number of students.
The program was successful in reaching 614 fourth-grade students. The presentations were about 45 minutes in length and were entitled “Energy and the Environment.” They were based on a Children’s University of Manchester educational online course. The course covered three areas:
How do we make electricity?
Renewable and non-renewable energy
Advantages and disadvantages of different energy sources
At the end of each segment, there was a quiz that the classes took as a whole.
VIEO spokesperson Don Buchanan said, “This project was a success. We have received positive feedback from the teachers. We still have ways to go to fulfill our goal. The goal is that every Virgin Islands student will learn about energy resources and how our use of them relates to their lives.”
For information on energy efficiency or alternative energy, visit the V.I. Energy Web site at www.vienergy.org
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