Windmills in Physics

Students act as guinea pigs for a new project in their classes

Physics classes recently have been working on creating windmills to show what they have been learning in class

Photo via Nathan Booher

Physics classes recently have been working on creating windmills to show what they have been learning in class

Vincent Towne, Staff Reporter

On Monday, December 9th, the Physics classes took part in a new project this year, just added to the course. The students were tasked to create a windmill which takes wind from a fan and makes enough energy to power a light bulb. They would each take turns placing their generators in front of the fan, waiting for a grade out of 55 points. 

The project was added to the normal schedule for Physics students in 2019, as the Physics teacher trio, Tyler Berzina, Jason Krska and Jeffrey Gehrke, all decided this would fit well with the existing material. The three believe students learn better when they have to apply their knowledge to a task. 

“It’s a little bit of a competition between them as well,” Berzina said. “hopefully, it motivates them more than just a grade.”

The students had been creating their project on and off for the last week before it was time for them to perform. Some students saw it as a welcome break from the daily grind of the math and logic that make up Physics. Yet, others felt it was a little unnecessary, considering the big test at the end of the class. 

“The project is fun but I’d rather be studying for the actual final right now,” Senior Nathan Booher said.

Every Physics student has come to dread the final. Berzina hopes the windmill activity will jumpstart his students’ memories from the beginning of the year. Topics such as torque, power, energy and force come back into play if the students want their windmills to be successful.

“It allows the students to take what they’ve learned and put it to use,” Berzina said. “They have to actually think instead of just regurgitating information. 

The students found themselves building their creation out of whatever they could scavenge. Everything from paper plates to tinker toys to VEX Robotics parts found its way into the hands of the students. The amalgamation of machines only amounted to a handful of students achieving a lit bulb. 

“I was the only one [in my class] who actually turned the light on,” senior Nader Sharif said. “Use gears. The torque helps generate more energy with the same amount of wind. I’m surprised no one else played with that idea.”

The activity didn’t go off without a hitch though, and there’s a few things the instructors hope to smooth out for future students.

“So far it’s gone pretty well, but if we ever run short on time, preparing for the final takes precedence,” Berzina said. “In hindsight, it probably would have been better if we got a transformer or something to make the light bulbs light up easier.” 

The teachers hope to repeat the windmill project for at least the second half of the year. A few other lessons and plans may have to be dropped in order to make room for the windmills, but if it works with the limited time, they’ll be able to replicate it for up-and-coming Wildcats.