Education Organizations and Events

Elementary School Students Explore Wind Power at RWU

Fourth-graders from the Bristol-Warren Regional School District test out their wind turbines at RWU as part of KidWind project/photo courtesy of Roger Williams University

Bristol, RI  ­­– Nearly 250 fourth-graders from the Bristol-Warren Regional School District built wind turbines as part of the KidWind project and recently came to Roger Williams University to test their pint-sized turbines in wind tunnels.

A partnership between Roger Williams University and the Bristol-Warren Regional School District, the KidWind project features RWU students bringing together two academic disciplines to introduce 232 fourth-graders to wind-turbine energy and the engineering design process. The project was made possible through the RWU Campaign for Civic Scholars, the Hassenfeld Family Foundation and the local sponsorship of TPI Composites, of Warren, R.I.

With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in Rhode Island in 2016, the local district has had a pressing need to provide elementary schools with support in integrating science and engineering in their classrooms. Working through RWU’s Community Partnerships Center and with the help of Benitz and Associate Professor of Science Education Li-Ling Yang, the KidWind project emerged.

Students test out wind energy at RWU/photo courtesy of Roger Williams University

This interdisciplinary project combines students from “EDU 342: Teaching Inquiry Science in Elementary School” and “ENGR 340: Sustainable Energy Systems” to teach an engineering design and wind energy curriculum to elementary students.

In teams blending both education and engineering majors, RWU students are leading five hour-long lessons in 11 fourth-grade classrooms, focusing on the different types of alternative energy and the overall engineering design process for wind turbines. For each lesson, the RWU students must work together to incorporate engineering and educational focuses to build a balanced lesson plan covering engineering concepts that is also grade-specific and NGSS-aligned.