Lesson 4

Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills

Designing a Windmill / Grade 2 / Cincinnati, OH

EiE - Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills, L4


The EIE Curriculum

Students focus on the mechanical engineering problem of capturing wind energy to do work as they imagine, plan, create, test, and improve their own windmills. 

Reflection Questions

What are some key supports you see Laura introducing at the beginning of this lesson in order to help students break down the challenge?

Laura introduces stepped goals, encourages students to remember what they learned from lesson 3, and encourages students to work together.

  • Laura introduces a stepped goal—to get the windmill to spin first, then to put weights in the cup. (1:30)
  • Laura encourages students to recall what they learned worked well when making sails. (2:10)
  • Laura reminds students that engineers work together. (3:00)

Some of Laura's students have difficulty correctly angling their blades on the first try. How does she guide them to think about improvements?

Laura uses strong and specific lines of questioning, guiding students to focus on and analyze specific aspects of their designs that might be improved.

  • Laura asks students to explain why they stuck blades in sideways instead of straight, guiding them to think critically about their decision. (6:30)
  • When one group's windmill spins and stops at a certain point, Laura asks questions guiding the girls to realize the blade is both smaller than the others and not angled. (7:00)
  • When a group has difficulty getting to the idea of the blade needing to be angled, Laura talks to them for quite some time about differences in blade position without "giving them the answer." (8:15)
  • Laura asks a group to think about which directions the blades need to be turned based on the direction the wind is coming from. (10:55)