Friday, October 21, 2011

STEM Project ... wind

Today was another windy day in Indiana.
God is in control of the wind. In Mark 4 (and parallel passages in Matthew 8 and Luke 8) the disciples were in a boat with Jesus when a great windstorm arose. They thought they were going to drown. Jesus got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Jesus also spoke of our limited knowledge of the wind when he was talking to Nicodemus (in John 3). He said, "You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

For the TI-Nspire STEM Project Challenge, students are to select a topic of interest that they want to investigate and explore, based on an issue or problem in the community (local, state or national) that they wish to change.

An interesting topic to investigate and explore is getting energy from WIND.
Indiana Wind
Within the past several years, Indiana has become the home of many wind farms. Is wind power an answer to our nation's problem of dependence on foreign oil? The rising cost of energy makes us wonder what can be done to reduce our reliance on 'disposable' energy. Is wind energy a viable solution for home and business energy in our area? Let's study wind turbines, rotational motion, wind power and energy.

In the next weeks and months, my students will share laboratory experiments they have done with the TI-Nspire Lab Cradle and Vernier sensors and summarize their findings from the following links.

- Small Wind Electric System: An Indiana Consumer's Guide
- Purdue University's Windy Energy website
- Geographic Information System for Renewable Energy
- Instructions to construct and Windbelt generator
- Kid Wind Project - Humdinger Windbelt kit
- Wind for Schools & Skystream
- Popular Mechanics - Windbelt
- Wind Power in Indiana

Recently an update about the potential for wind energy was published. This shows that Indiana could generate 443 TWh annually. For comparison, Indiana consumed less than 107 TWh of electricity in 2005. However, in 2010, the state only produced 1.24 TWh of electricity (which is better than many of our neighbors, but not in the top 5. Two of our wind farms did make the top 10 list.)
Wind Resources

Thursday, October 13, 2011

STEM Project Challenge ... ideas

This summer our school was accepted to participate in the TI-Nspire STEM Project Challenge. I am so excited about how well this fits in with what we are doing and my goals for my students, and not just the AP Physics & Calculus students, but also the Physics First freshmen.

Like with the NASA Student Launch Initiative we participated in years ago where Covenant Christian High School received a several thousand dollar contract with NASA, we wanted to come up with an idea that was truly worthwhile. See point#3 on this Covenant NASA-SLI website.

We began brain storming ideas. Some of these are recorded on this website. (There are also some fun pictures of how we are using the TI-Nspire in class, which sometimes means outside.)
I wonder which of the ideas listed, sound most interesting to you?

An idea the students got excited about that didn't make the list was to make a jet pack. In researching that, they came upon an impressive (and hilarious) water jet pack.