Wind Power: From Eyesore to Energy

By Anna Bennett, November 9, 2008

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Green Design

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Science
  • Technology

Lesson Time

Five 50-minute periods


The purpose of this lab is to use the design process to solve one of the common problems associated with wind power – the design of the wind turbines themselves. Green energy, particularly wind power, has been called the new energy technology of the future, yet many property owners object to wind farms near their property because of the aesthetic of the turbines themselves. While some may find them beautiful, that they are considered an eyesore by many landowners is a major obstacle for wind technology. The purpose of this lesson is for students to investigate the purpose and use of wind power, as well as the function of a wind turbine, and then use the design process to create a functional-yet-relevant version of a wind turbine to suit a community's needs. The lesson will guide students through the design process, complete with research, interviews, and drafting to create a final presentation or model that they can show the class as an example of how design can help ease a vital technology into our world. The goals for this process are to engage students in the study of energy and future technology, the art of design, the mechanics of wind energy, and the presentation process.

National Standards

Common Core English Language Art: College and Career Readiness Standards Strand Writing W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. Strand Speaking and Listening SL.1. Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. SL.2. Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. SL.3. Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric. SL.4. Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. Agricultural Education Standard 5.  Understands strategies used in natural resource management and conservation Engineering Education Standard 5. Understands energy and power types, sources, and conversions Standard 9. Understands elements of planning construction project Standard 14. Uses the design process to solve problems Geography Standard 16. Understands the changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution and importance of resources Technology Standard 3. Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual Standard 4. Understands the nature of technological design Standard 5. Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology  

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

 Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.3 Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


Students will be able to:
  • gather information from research materials
  • analyze opinions and weigh costs and benefits
  • synthesize new ideas from existing knowledge
  • edit and critically analyze their own product
  • present and defend their model or presentation with evidence and reason


  • Powerpoint slideshow, attached
  • internet access to websites in Powerpoint show
  • Design Challenge Notes handout


  • Powerpoint slideshow
  • organizer for notes on web video
  • wind power handout
  • supplies for design process (chart paper, poster paper, markers, pencils, etc.)
  • supplies for making a model (optional, including recycled items such as plastic bottles, straws, paper towel tubes, plastic cups, glue, tape, scissors, markers and other decorative supplies)


  • fossil fuel: any fuel source derived from fossil remains, i.e. coal, oil
  • nonrenewable resource: any resource that cannot be readily created or replaced
  • renewable resource: any resource that can be regenerated within a reasonable amount of time
  • emission: the gaseous byproduct of burning of fuels
  • turbine: the rotating part of a windmill that generates electricity with its motion
  • sustainable: any resource that can be replenished and thus does not damage the integrity of the Earth


Day 1: Introducing the Idea of Wind Power Through Design. Aim: Students will be able to weigh evidence and the merit of conflicting opinions; students will be able to identify possible positive and negative consequences of using wind power for a home or community. Wind Power Research 1.  Teacher should introduce wind power as an alternative energy source by showing the class video pieces on two communities that use wind power in the US. One video highlights many of the positive aspects of wind energy while the other illustrates some of the conflicts that arise when wind power is used in a more residential setting. 2.  During the video, students are to take notes on positive and negative factors they observe, which they will use the next day on the project. 3.  The final presentation activity for the day should be the slideshow of various wind turbine designs. This shows the students not only the diversity of design, but also the diversity in setting where wind power can be used. Students should take notes on this slide show as well, for their use later in the design process. Day 2: The Interview Process Aim: Students will be able to create questions that will help them problem-solve in the design process. Interviewing the Client 1.  Introduce the day’s activity by outlining the design process and the steps that professional design firms take to identify and solve a problem through the creation of a new design. The interview process with the client, assessing the needs of the community, and asking questions are key components of the project and will inform the students’ final product. 2.  Hand back the Design Notes packet that the class began to use on Day 1 and go over the structure of the Interview Process notes page with the class. 3.  The introductory activity should allow the students ten minutes or so to brainstorm at least three different questions that they, as designers, need to ask their client in order to assess their needs. Encourage students to reference their notes from the previous day on the communities currently using wind power to help guide their thinking. 4.  After the students have had enough time to come up with their questions, the interview process begins. In this part of the project the teacher becomes the “client” and the class the design team. The teacher should take time to familiarize him or herself with the wind power community situations from the previous day’s videos in order to effectively play the role of the client. 5.  Student questions will likely include topics such as: community location, energy needs, space restrictions, community resident profiles (age of residents, income, house sizes, children, pets, etc. in neighborhood), aesthetic concerns, etc. 6.  In this portion, the criteria created by the teacher will help students identify possible design problems that might be fixed through design; at the end of the interview session, guide students to choose one design problem that they are most interested in solving. This is an effective pre-assessment for the class and will allow you to group the students based on their common design interests. Day 3: Group Brainstorming Aim: Students will be able to analyze a problem and generate possible solutions; students will be able to choose the solution they feel best solves their design problem based on their observations and interview notes from the previous days’ activities Group Brainstorming 1.  Divide students into design groups based on their design challenge interests. Instruct students that their first task is to come up with a unifying design goal that will guide them through their design process. 2.  Then, in their groups, students should walk through their challenge and their notes from the interview and the research videos and come up with possible solutions. Encourage them to consider all possible solutions—no idea is too wild. Once they have a handful of ideas, challenge some of their ideas—what about their idea is good, what needs work? By coming up with counter points to challenge them you deepen their thinking on the issue but also push their creative limits! 3.  By the end of the period students should have a solid idea of their design solution that they want to implement and should have prepared themselves for the project construction day! Day 4: Presentation Production Aim: Students will be able to construct a model of their design solution which outlines their thinking and their understanding of the design challenge. Work Product 1.  Have students break into their design groups and begin the construction of their visual for the presentation part of this project. If the school has access to extensive art supplies, students may actually use recycled materials to construct some sort of model. If not, using chart paper/construction paper, etc. to draw diagrams will be fine. 2.  Refer to the rubric attached and the Design Notes handout so that students know what needs to be included in their visual for the project. 3.  You will need to remind students to work efficiently using the notes they generated on Day 3 and to use their construction time wisely! Day 5: Design Presentations Aim: Students will be able to explain their design solution, demonstrate an understanding of the design process and answer questions from the class and the teacher over their design idea. Group Preparation 1.  Break the students into their design groups and give them 7-10 minutes to decide who is going to do what part of the presentation. Refer to the presentation rubric so students know what they must accomplish. Presentations 1.  Have each group present their design problem, the steps they took to solve the problem, and their solution to the class. Have them refer to the rubric so they know what is expected. At the end, open up the class to questions for the group to see how the members are able to explain/defend/justify their ideas based on the research and interview process. Wrap-up 1.  As a homework assignment or exit question, have the students assess what they learned through the project by having them respond to the following statement, in a paragraph or two, “What are some of the advantages and disadvantages to using wind power? How can some of the disadvantages be solved through design?”


Use the rubric for the presentation and the visual work product, but also grade the students\' reflections to the wrap-up question given at the end of the presentation day.    

Enrichment Extension Activities

Extension activities could include:
  • Design wind turbines for our school
  • Research where wind power might be used in our community or nearby communities and come up with a plan to use more renewable energy in our own city
  • Have students assess their home energy use with a "carbon footprint" activity and ask them to create a PSA for the school on how students can help cut down on energy use at home

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.