(Written by Antonio Coleman of the Cadillac News)
Groups of Northern Michigan students gave demonstrations of six hand-built wind turbines they'd spent weeks crafting at the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center.
Every Saturday during the month of January, the students worked with CTC instructors in the areas of engineering technology, metal fabrication, and electronics in the design, development, and final assembly of their wind turbines. During the weekend, the twelve students presented their various turbine designs in teams of two in front of a room of family members and CTC instructors.
Design elements of each wind turbine differed in a variety of ways as students presented everything from bacon-shaped turbine blades to shark-inspired turbine designs. Kaylee Lerma, 15, a member of team Ricky Bobby, said Saturday's wind turbine project taught her a variety of metal fabrication skills. The Manton Consolidated High School student said fabricating the hub of the team's Will Ferrell-inspired wind turbine was the team's most difficult challenge. However, Lerma said she was excited to watcher her wind turbine in action and learn more about the possibilities of wind energy. "Wind technology is an efficient way to generate energy because wind is a natural resource," Lerma said.
CTC Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) camps are designed to encourage girls in the STEM-related careers. In the summer, students worked to design and demonstrate Sea Perch underwater robots using PVC pipe, flotation devices, and small motors.
Coordinator Kim Iverson said the wind turbine design project was an opportunity for students to integrate and utilize multiple CTC programs throughout the design process. "This project takes into account more engineering skills and a higher level of science and math skills," Iverson said. "They're no longer following a set of procedures and instructions. It's very hands-on." Iverson said she was impressed by the creativity each group displayed over the weekend.
Lake City High School student Nina Iverson designed a breakfast-inspired wind turbine with bacon-shaped blades to demonstrate Saturday. Nina, 14, said the design was inspired by the group's love of food. She said she was impressed by each group's designs and said the project has taught her a new appreciation for science and math. "Usually, when you think of math and science, you think it's really boring," Nina said. "But they can actually be really interesting in working to create new things."
Tim Rigling, Computers, Networking, and Electronics Technology program instructor, said the club is a way for talented young females to showcase their skills, as well as to continue pursuing their interest in STEM-related careers. "These camps are all about encouraging students to be who they want to be by continuing to go for it," Rigling said.