Mini Windmills

Time Required
1 class period
Students will construct simple windmills.


Students will use a limited amount of materials and the engineering design process to build functioning windmill models. They will build models to understand how wind can spin a windmill, and how rotational movement can be used to convert wind power into mechanical energy in order to lift weights. Using the scientific method, they will conduct trials, change variables, and work to improve the performance of their windmills.

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas

  • PS1.A Structure and Properties of Matter
  • PS2.A Forces and Motion
  • PS3.B Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer
  • ETS1.B Developing Possible Solutions

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 windmill
  • Be able to use the scientific method to isolate and adjust variables in a model windmill
  • Understand energy conversions and transfers, and how a windmill converts moving air into usable mechanical energy
  • Have constructed a functional windmill that lifts weights


  • Paper plates
  • Foam cylinder
  • Skewers
  • Straws
  • Duct tape
  • Foam stickers
  • String
  • Cup
  • Washer
  • Rulers
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • 20"x20" standard box fans
  • Alternative blade materials such as card stock, cardboard, paper cups, etc. Anything that catches the wind will work!