Meet the judges
At every KidWind Challenge, we bring in wind energy experts to be judges. You can be sure that they’ll have plenty of questions for each team, but on the day of the event, you can also feel free to ask them any wind energy question on your mind.
The judges will come around to each team to check out your creation, ask you about how your turbine works, and talk with you about your inventing process. They will also want to hear about your basic understanding of how wind energy works and how it relates to society.
Each team’s turbine will be tested for one minute in our 48" × 48" wind tunnel at a wind speed of approximately 3.5-5 m/s. You are probably used to one small fan in your classroom. Our tunnels are very different!
At high wind speeds, sometimes flimsy blades start to bend and hit your tower, causing the whole thing to go out of balance. Make sure you're ready for the real deal by thoroughly testing at low wind speeds to try to reduce even the smallest blade bending and shaking. Things will only get worse as things speed up!
On Challenge day, before performance testing, student teams will be given a reasonable amount of time to test drive their devices in the wind tunnel. You will also be given time to tweak your turbine in the tunnel before actual testing begins.
Once the testing session begins, you will be given two minutes to set up your wind turbine inside the wind tunnel. In order to receive full marks for your turbine’s functionality, your wind turbine must be able to start producing power once the wind tunnel is activated, without any external assistance.
During testing, the wind tunnel will be running constantly. If your wind turbine slips, breaks, or falls apart before the 60-second timer is started, your team will either be given two minutes to set up your wind turbine again, or you will be allowed to remove the turbine to make quick repairs. In that case, you will be moved to the back of the line for retesting. But you’ll only be given one restart opportunity, so build wisely. We’re rooting for you!
Your team’s turbine will be assessed by four categories, each weighted differently, as shown in 2016 Judging Rubric. So brush up on your turbine knowledge, find the best materials and parts you can get your hands on, and have some fun along the way.
Energy produced: The judges will use Vernier data-logging tools to record the total energy output of each turbine over a 60-second trial period. They collect this data in milliwatt-seconds or joules. Your team’s energy output will be ranked relative to other competing teams and you’ll receive points corresponding to this rank.
Turbine design: Judges will closely inspect the parts of your wind turbine. They will also conduct a brief interview with your entire team to understand why you chose the parts you did and why you think they work.
Documentation of design: You must produce some type of documentation that reflects your design process and your knowledge of wind energy science. It’s up to each team to determine how to document this part of your project. We’ve seen short reports, engineer’s notebooks, videos, Powerpoints, posters, and so on.
Knowledge of subject matter: Throughout the KidWind Challenge, the judges will come around to each team to ask some general questions about wind and renewable energy. They are doing this to see if your team has gained some real wind energy knowledge while you created your wind turbine.