Building your own small wind turbine is a great science project for children that teaches them the power of wind and the potential of wind energy. Pinwheels are not only children’s toys or holiday decorations, they are also an educational project. Pinwheels have pockets which catch the wind and harness its power to spin the blades, which makes it a small wind turbine. Consider using this project in a science class when discussing modern wind turbines used to create electricity, or in a history class when discussing the use of windmills or demonstrating weather conditions.
Decorate a sheet of heavy cardstock or craft foam. You can decorate it any way you like and with a variety of craft supplies. If glue is used, it is important that it dry completely before beginning to cut out the pinwheel.
Draw a square on the paper. Use a ruler to insure that your edges are straight. The larger your square, the larger the pinwheel will be. Larger pinwheels are easier to assemble, but take more wind power to operate. If you are not comfortable free-handing the design, printable patterns are available online.
Use the ruler to draw diagonal lines across the sheet of paper. These lines should run from corner to corner, and divide the square into four equal triangles.
Divide the square into four equal quarters by drawing two diagonal lines across the square. Use a ruler to draw these lines from corner to corner. Cut half way down each of the lines drawn. This splits each corner in two.
Use a hole puncher to make a hole in each corner. It does not matter whether you punch the hole in the right or left side of the corner as long as you are consistent at all four corners. So if you punch your first whole in the right half of the corner, do the same for the other three.
Punch a whole in the exact center of the square, at the point where your diagonal lines meet to make an x.
Bring the corners that have holes punched in them to the center. Line up the corner holes with the one made in the center of the square. Be careful not to crease the paper as you bend it into this position. Creasing the paper or foam, rather than bowing it will flatten the blade of the turbine. Bowing the paper makes an open pocket to catch air, and is essential to the turbine working correctly.
Place the length of a straw against the back of the turbine, while still holding the corners in place. The straw, which will serve as a handle for you, and as a post to rotate from for the turbine, should come three quarters of the way up the back of the turbine, and be centered so that it covers the hole in the center of the turbine completely
Use a single brad to secure the corners to the center, and the straw to the turbine. Press the brad first through the punched holes and then through the plastic straw. If you cannot press the brad through the straw easily, use scissors to make a small cut to get the brad started.
Bend the ends of the brad so that they catch and cannot pass back through the holes. The brad should be bent so that the connections remain loose. Check to make sure the turbine will spin freely, if it will not, loosen the brad.