Wind Turbines and Energy from Wind Turbulence
Wind turbines can be used as a source of clean, renewable energy. With their tall towers, wind turbines harness the movement from the wind-spun blades to generate electricity. The positioning of a wind turbine, however, will determine how effective it is. Environmental and civil engineers carefully evaluate the placement of wind turbine towers to help ensure they get maximum exposure to wind. What happens when there are buildings, trees, or other objects nearby? In this family science activity, families experiment to see how buildings may interrupt the flow of air and create vortices rather than steady streams of wind. It can be easy to observe similar patterns in a stream of water, but in this hands-on activity, families observe wind patterns using a fan, cardboard boxes, and streamers.
Students and families can explore the science behind wind turbines with an independent science fair project or a family-friendly activity:
- Wild Winds: Detecting Turbulence Around Structures (Science Buddies project idea)
- Wild Winds: Turbulent Flow around Structures (science activity at Scientific American)