Time Required
1 class period
Students will construct and experiment with a mini wind turbine.


Students will learn about some of the main variables that determine what can be powered by a solar panel. Solar panels can be hard to understand, as they appear to be powering things but it's not clear how and why they work. By gathering both quantitative and qualitative information, students will get a better idea of how solar panels work, where they work best, and what variables affect their productivity. Students will use a tool called a multimeter to read the exact voltage and amperage of a solar panel, which will help them measure, understand, and compare the information they gather during the hunt.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS2.A Forces and Motion
  • PS2.B Types of Interactions
  • PS3.A Definitions of Energy
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • PS3.C Relationship Between Energy and Forces
  • ETS1.A Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem
  • ETS1.B Developing Possible Solutions
  • ETS1.C Optimizing the Design Solution

Cross Cutting Concepts

  • Cause and Effect
  • Energy and Matter
  • Patterns

Learning Objectives

At the end of the lesson students will be able to

  • Know the fundamental parts of a wind turbine
  • Be able to use the engineering design process and the scientific method to isolate and adjust variables while designing and testing wind wheels
  • Understand energy conversions and transfers, and how a wind turbine converts moving air into electrical energy
  • Design a Wind Wheel for the firefly wind turbine that can light up an LED


  • Tubing
  • Pencil
  • Propeller
  • LED lights
  • Acorn hex nuts
  • Nacelle
  • Screw hubs
  • Generator
  • Rulers
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Pencil sharpener
  • 20"x20" standard box fans
  • Cardstock print outs of wind wheel templates