Preserving the Environment

Inspiring the Next Generation Of Energy Conservationists

July 21, 2014
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Inspiring the Next Generation Of Energy Conservationists
A fifth grade class in Ann Arbor, Michigan learned about wind power by putting up their own wind turbine. Timothy Tolle/Flickr
Watch how a fifth grade class in Ann Arbor, Michigan put up their own wind turbine.

If anyone ever questions the future of sustainable energy, look no further than Cindy Johengen’s fifth grade class at Allen Elementary School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

With the guidance of 32 engineering students from the University of Michigan who go by the nickname “Woven Wind,” these middle schoolers put up their own 15-foot wind turbine in their school’s backyard. MLive reports that this mini turbine — with its three three-foot-long blades — reportedly cost $600 and was just a temporary installation. (Woven Wind is working on securing permits for a permanent installation)

As for how much juice it provides, it can power small devices like cell phones. However, don’t scoff at the contraption’s tiny punch. There’s so much more to it than that.

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The student team — who usually build small-scale turbines to power rural villages in countries such as Guatemala — decided to work a little closer to home. The reason why? To educate and inspire these youngsters about sustainable energy.

“The greatest moments are when we see the ‘aha’ moments and the ideas click in their heads,” said Nick Kalweit, the lead engineer of the Woven Wind project and senior in mechanical engineering.

It’s more important than ever to teach the next generation the importance of sustainability, especially since the planet they will inherit is facing the impacts of climate change.

As Woven Wind team member Anastasia Ostrowski said, “When I was younger, growing up, I never had that education. I didn’t get the stress of renewable energies or the stress of finding ways to better our planet. These kids have a great opportunity that a lot of their education is stressed on that because of the times we’re in. Everyone is realizing that renewable [energy] is essential.”

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