How can I design better blades?

Time Required
1-2 class periods
Students will learn how to design and construct different turbine blades to maximize the power output of a wind turbine.
Slide Deck


Students will become familiar with the engineering design process during this lesson. They will learn how different blade design variables affect power output and work to create the most optimal blades.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS3.C Relationship Between Energy and Forces
  • ETS1.A Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Patterns
  • Systems and System Models

Learning Objectives

At the end of the lesson students will be able to

  • Be able to participate in the engineering design process
  • Understand how blade design variables affect power output
  • Know how to improve and optimize wind turbine blades


  • 1 model turbine on which blades can quickly be interchanged
  • 1 multimeter or voltage/current data logger
  • 1 box fan
  • Milk cartons, PVC pipe, or paper towel rolls (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Pictures of wind turbine blades
  • Sample blades of varying sizes, shapes and materials
  • Balsa wood, corrugated plastic, card stock, paper plates, etc.
  • 1/4" dowels
  • Duct tape and/or hot glue
  • Scissors
  • Protractor for measuring blade pitch
  • Safety glasses
  • Poster-size graph paper (optional)
  • Student reading passages and student worksheets