V.I. students harness wind in energy competition
Published: April 11, 2014
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Students from nine high schools territory-wide are hoping to breeze through a new alternative energy competition this year.
The students will be competing in the first Virgin Islands KidWind Challenge and vying for recognition as having designed a homemade wind turbine that, of all the competing turbines, will create the most wind power.
The competition - put on by the V.I. Energy Office and the University of the Virgin Islands - starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Charlotte Amalie High School gymnasium.
"The students that I have dealt with have been very enthusiastic," said Energy Office spokesman Don Buchanan.
Each school chose several students to participate in KidWind, which is a national program, though the Energy Office and the university did not reach out to it until this year. In previous years, the Energy Office ran a solar-energy car race, though it wanted something new, Buchanan said.
"You do something year after year, and it gets old," he said.
Because wind technology has become a more popular national and international alternative energy avenue in recent years, the Energy Office and UVI decided it would benefit students to learn more about it.
A few years ago, fewer than a dozen wind turbines, which create energy by harnessing the power of wind, existed in the territory. Now, about 60 exist, Buchanan said.
In the last two weeks, the students have learned about the engineering behind creating wind turbines and about the economic and environmental benefits of using them.
"At first, I didn't really think I'd want to do it," said Victor LaPlace, a ninth-grader at All Saints Cathedral School on St. Thomas.
Despite his reservations, Victor joined his friends in creating a turbine out of parts of an old fan, PVC pipe and copper - an experience he said he is now glad to have.
All of the teams received a basic kit to build the turbine, but then were able to be innovative in how they designed the blades, gear ratios and other components of their own turbines.
"It's a good experience. It's fun," Victor said. "And, it's hands-on learning."
The students' projects will be judged by staff from the Energy Office and UVI. The judges will determine which turbine creates the most wind power using an electronic device that measures the power after the turbine has been set in front of a wind tunnel.
The wind tunnel is a 4 by 4-foot machine constructed from several fans, Buchanan said, that will produce a wind tunnel that operates at a speed of 5 meters per second.
Schools that will be going against each other in the competition include St. Croix schools IQRA Academy; The Manor School; St. Croix Educational Complex; and St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center; as well as St. Thomas schools Charlotte Amalie High School; Ss. Peter and Paul; All Saints Cathedral School; Antilles School; and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.
- Contact Jenny Kane at 714-9102 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.