Lesson 4

Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills

Designing a Windmill Part 2 / Grade 2 / Framingham, MA

The EIE Curriculum

EiE - Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills, L4 Part 2

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 types of questions does Pat ask at the testing station, particularly when blades don’t work?

At the testing station, Pat asks lots of questions guiding students to comment carefully on what they observe and why they think blades are not spinning.

  • Pat asks two girls why they think their windmill is not spinning. The girls decide that the current design doesn’t have a place to catch the wind—the wind just hits it. (3:15)
  • Pat guides another group to look at their blades and think about what might be wrong. They decide that the blades are too flimsy and they will use craft sticks instead of coffee stirrers. (4:10)

What are some of the key ideas you see Pat bring out in the reflection of the lesson?

As in the Lesson 3 reflection, Pat guides students to talk about the properties of the materials they tried that worked well. She asks probing questions about the materials they used and why they did or did not work.

  • A student says she’s going to use the same properties that worked well in her sail when she designs her next blades, since the blades they just made were too flexible. (7:50)
  • Pat guides students to discuss which shapes worked the best. Students mention that squares and cups catch a lot of wind. (9:00)