Design and Technology/Physics KS3 & KS4: Inventing DIY wind turbines

Fran Scott explores how PhD student Jon Sumanik-Leary from the University of Sheffield is developing a DIY wind turbine for isolated Third World communities.

Conventional wind turbines (and other forms of renewable energy including solar panels) are difficult to repair when broken.

Jon’s design is simple. It allows people with little background in engineering to build and repair the turbine with relative ease.

Fran Scott builds a turbine and tests it in a wind tunnel.

This clip is from the series The Imagineers.

Teacher Notes

Students can create their own wind turbine.

Instructions for the class:

Using A4 paper, paper clips, cork, (optional - motor, wires), a ruler, and a hair dryer. Draw a rectangle measuring 2cm by 5cm, and draw your blade design.

Trace the design onto card and cut it out. Students could compare 3 or 4 blades to check efficiency.

Stick 1 paper clip onto each blade and insert the straightened end into the smaller end of the cork. Try and ensure the blades are all at the same angle and an equal distance apart.

Students could try and secure the cork onto a ruler with an elastic band, and use a hair dryer to see if the blades will turn.

A further extension could be to try and incorporate a small motor and wires into the design by attaching them to a ruler and securing the cork to the motor shaft.

Again, test using a hair dryer.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Design & Technology and Physics at KS3 and GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd and 4th Level in Scotland. Appears in AQA, OCR, EDEXCEL, CCEA, WJEC, SQA.

More from The Imagineers:

Earthquake engineering
Inventing clothes inspired by nature
Inventing future fabrics
Inventing smoke-free stoves
Nano-bubbles and drug delivery