Holiday Workshop objectives
Learn from an expert in the field of Wind Turbines
Build a wind turbine kit to power lights in a house
Build our own wind turbines from equipment
Test our wind turbines at the beach
Wind features a lot in Clacton. Today, as I write this blog, it is windy...again. Thankfully, we can turn this into an energy. People with vision and determination have built massive wind farms off the coast of Clacton and all around the windy British Isles. In this workshop, I hoped to teach children the way turbines work and give them a new appreciation for the wind turbines off their own coast.
GALLOPER WIND TURBINE MAINTENANCE COMPANY PRESENTATION
We started with the usual word search and getting to know each other. The 'Galloper' wind turbine maintenance presenter set up his very elaborate VR equipment and began his presentation. There were some great statistics from the presentation.
There are 56 wind turbines that produce 353megawatts of electricity on average. The wind turbines that Galloper maintain, those off the coast of Harwich, produce enough energy for 444,000 homes. Those of the coast of Clacton are 129 metres from sea level to wind turbine tip. They also travel 30 metres into the sea bed.
There are many types of offshore wind turbines. As you can tell, ours are monopile and usually for shallow water. However there are floating ones that are anchored for deeper waters.
Much of the technology to make wind turbines safe and stable comes from the oil rig companies that have many years experience in anchoring their rigs to the sea bed.
As well as a very interesting PowerPoint presentation, we were able experience what it is like to take a motor boat up to a monopile wind turbine and enter it. There is a lift almost all the way to the top and if the lift is out of order, there is a ladder with resting places throughout the climb. The turbine chamber at the top is quite large and contains the gearing to increase the voltage so it can be pumped to the mainland and into the National Grid for distribution.
After the presentation and the fun with the Virtual Reality goggles, we were shown the harness gear that they all have to use when dealing with maintenance on a wind turbine.
The presenter gave us the opportunity to harness up. I had a go. The kit they have is very elaborate. Apparently, they all have to go on a course and pass before they are allowed to go to the wind turbines.
MAKING A WIND TURBINE KIT
Next, we then made simple wind turbine kits.
The idea was to make a kit, turn on the fan and generate wind which would turn the turbine blades which were within an electric motor.
This generates electricity and when combined with an LED light, brings the light to varying degrees of brightness. This is a fun investigation as the students get that 'Oh, wow!' moment when they realise that the LED is lit by the energy from the fan.
The next investigation was to see if they could generate enough energy to light up 3 LEDs and place them in the rooms of the houses. We had a variety of LED coloured lights.
It took a while for the students to work out how to produce enough energy and arrange the circuits correctly but eventually they managed. Introducing a switch was an additional challenge which some achieved. Within the playing and testing there is plenty of new learning.
In this picture, you can see the variety of LEDs incorporated in the circuits with a switch. You can also see that on the roof is a light green wind turbine being turned by the wind generated by the table fan.
MAKING THEIR OWN WIND TURBINES
Naturally, the next progression from the kit is to see if they can produce their own wind turbines using wires, toilet roles, LED lights, small electric motors, water bottles, tape, scissors and propellers. They enjoyed this and were eager to paint them and test them down on the beach.
Once we had made them and tested that they rotate when the table fans blow wind at them, we took them down to the beach. Luckily, there was plenty of wind that day...in fact a bit too much, roughly 40 knots of wind, which damaged some of the blades we made with water bottle plastic.
We also brought down two large wind turbine kits which are able to charge a single rechargeable AA battery when the turbine blades are rotated by the wind.
We managed to generate some electricity, about 0.5 volts from one of the wind turbines, Unfortunately, the others lost their bottle blades in the strong wind before we could test them.
The 'Wind Power' kits were interesting as they could be varied in the direction the blades were pointing which could demonstrate optimal angle for wind generation as well as teach about how the offshore wind turbines get the most out of the wind.
We attracted some interest from passers-by which was nice as we demonstrated how the wind turbines produced electricity.
The day ended with a return to the church hall and the students painting their wind turbine towers.
Bringing in a presenter was a great move. He brought expertise and equipment that really inspired the students.
Although there was an explanation about how the wind turbine works and the newer turbines that need no gearing, I would have liked to have explored the way wind turbines generate electricity. Learning about generators is something I think we could have explored much more.
The blades on some of the students' wind turbines broke before we could use them on the beach. A stronger way of securing the blades needs to be employed next time.
Despite the low turn out, the main objectives were largely achieved. The wind at the beach was so strong that it made the experience really memorable with lots of electricity being generated by the turbines that were still intact.