How would you weigh environmental, economic, political and engineering considerations in deciding the best place to site a wind turbine in your community? High school students from around Massachusetts grappled with this question as part of ScienceQUEST on October 26 on the UMass-Amherst campus.
The 4th annual ScienceQUEST invited students in grades 10-12 to campus for a day of mini-classes, hands-on science demonstrations, and guided lab tours. For the second consecutive year, IGERT fellows Andrew Allyn, Micah Brewer and Robert Darrow taught a mini-class explaining basic principles of wind turbine design, as well as environmental and political considerations in siting turbines. Students in the classes then completed a group activity in which they simulated an island community deciding where to build an offshore turbine.
Students and their parents learned how to calculate the power output from a wind turbine, and participated in spirited discussions about the enviornmental, economic, and political tradeoffs of different potential sites.