Our students used Discovery Science Elementary from Discovery Education to enhance our curriculum and implement virtual labs. Wow Windmills! (a virtual lab)asks students to explore the design of a windmill that is used to transfer wind energy into electrical energy in a wind turbine generator. In level 1, students test three blade variables to create the most efficient working windmill as measured in average revolutions per minute. In level 2, students test a standard wind turbine design. They compare the number and length of the blades as well as placement of the windmill to generate electricity, given as annual kilowatt hours (kWh). Students also must consider the cost of the blades in their conclusions.

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Next our students worked collaboratively on a hands on reverse engineering project where they created their our own working (pinwheel) windmill. The students were put into groups of 2 and tables of 4. They were given written instructions and materials needed to complete the task. The students had the opportunity to ask questions not only to their partners but also to the other students at their tables. It was interesting to watch as my lower level students and exceptional learning students were able to do this with little difficulty, while my academically gifted experienced some frustration when the windmill would not work the first time.

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