Early Engineers – Brilliant Futures students investigate the power of Physics in Wind Turbines

Being able to identify questions and problems that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge is a key feature of the Brilliant Futures Gold Coast Program. Investigative Year students recently came together at our Health Sciences campus to work in partnership with Griffith University to collaborate in the design, construction and testing of  a model wind turbine. Focusing on fair testing and variables, using the context of renewable energy generation and its associated advantages and disadvantages, students were guided in their investigation to question problems, predict outcomes, collect data and draw conclusions. Culminating in a group challenge, teams manipulated variables in order to generate the maximum amount of power for their Wind Turbine.

Makayla and Luke share their reflections on the workshop:

“At the Wind Turbine Workshop at QAHS we learnt about wind turbines and the operative factors. Firstly, we got hands-on and built small wind turbines. We then experimented with our turbines to investigate how wind speed affected our turbines. We completed a table of variables to experiment with the various factors that changed the power generated. Finally, our lecturer set us a competition to work in co-operative teams to find the most efficient wind turbine by changing several variables. The most that any team generated was 162 megawatts, which was a large amount to be generated in such a small length of time. It was an enjoyable learning experience, getting to know more about wind turbines and getting to know other Brilliant Futures students.”
Luke – Brilliant Futures Investigative Year student

“In April I had the opportunity to be part of the Brilliant Futures Wind Turbine Investigation. We learnt the formula to calculate power [Current (mA) × Volts (mV)]. We wrote independent and dependent variables in addition to recording the results after each of our experiments. We also completed a prediction linking to our independent variable. For example, if the wind turbine’s blade size is smaller, then the turbine will spin slower because there is less surface area resulting in less power created.

During this investigation we learned about wind turbines by doing physical discovery, consulting with our peers and discussing results. We also identified how different variables such as wind speed or blade size impacted the results. Mr Shepherd even set a small competition in which teams could generate the most power in watts for their own designed and constructed wind turbine.

Attending the Wind Turbine Workshop was extremely fun and the thing that I learnt most is that different blade configurations create different quantities of power and that to achieve over 150 watts you need an exceptionally precise, detailed, accurate, stable and well-designed turbine.”
Makayla – Brilliant Futures Investigative Year student

Mrs Vanessa Rebgetz
Deputy Principal/Brilliant Futures Coordinator