Whirling Windmills

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In this activity, learners are challenged to design and construct a windmill to harness the power of wind. Learners act as design engineers, focusing on the testing and redesign parts of the engineering design process. They learn about independent variables and data-driven design by testing various blade designs and configurations and placing them in a wind stream.

Safety note: When testing, keep the learners behind the windmill since blades may fly off. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on Archive.org.]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Tinkertoy rods (various lengths)
  • Sample windmill blades
  • Windmill hubs
  • Poster board
  • Cardboard
  • Cardstock
  • Foam Core
  • Styrofoam plates
  • Prepared Windmill Stands (PVC, motor, wires, alligator clips)
  • Multimeters
  • Fans
  • Masking Tape
  • Scissors


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Energy and Power
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Momentum and Velocity
      • Acceleration
      • Rotation Motion
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • , Museum of Science, Boston, 2005

Funding Sources:

  • The Gordon Foundation
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services