Friday, February 19, 2010

Everybody Blown Away by Latest BTDS Event

Last night our guest scientist was Dr. Steve Stadler. He's our Oklahoma state geographer, and through the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative he's been instrumental in creating tools that help bring more wind energy to our state.

We started the program with "The Wind Energy Song." Here I am turning our group into a human wind farm:

We started the program a bit differently, and had everybody brainstorm about what factors might be important in determining where to locate a wind farm. Then we asked Dr. Stadler to comment on each one. We discussed the ways trees, buildings, water, and elevation might effect wind turbines. As it turns out, wind speed is the important factor in all cases.

We used the yellow windsock pictured below, in front of a fan, to demonstrate that the higher the wind speed, the more work the wind can do. In this case, a lower wind speed didn't carry enough energy to lift the windsock. But a higher speed did. In fact, the "wind power density" is related to velocity cubed - meaning that even a little increase in wind speed provides a big increase in the energy it carries.

Below is Dana, our Support Group Coordinator, helping the kids put together their own anemometers, a word I had plenty of trouble with last night. These little gizmos measure wind speed. We learned that there are 120 Mesonet stations scattered throughout Oklahoma. Each weather station has an anemometer and other instruments to collect weather data. These data points, combined with a mathematical model, allow Dr. Stadler to accurately predict average wind speed at any location in the state, at any time of year. That's good information for someone who wants to put up a wind farm!

Thanks, Dana, for supplying the anemometers!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wind Energy!

Howdy, BTDS fans!

Our next program is coming up February 18, 6:00 PM at the Stillwater Public Library. Dr. Steve Stadler from the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative will be our speaker. Among other things, he was instrumental in setting up Oklahoma's famous Mesonet system, and he uses mathematical models to determine where the best spots are for commercial wind farms.

If you'd like to explore this topic ahead of time, here are some cool websites to check out. Many thanks to Dana for helping collect these links!

Oklahoma Mesonet - This is the official Mesonet website. Spend some time poking around. You can see all kinds of data about current air and soil conditions in Oklahoma! Click "overview" to get some background information.

Power of the Wind - This article on Science News for Kids covers all the basics of wind energy.

KidWind - Lots of information for teachers and students, including directions for building your own wind turbine.

Alliant Energy Kids - This site includes information on many renewable energy sources, and has a great drawing showing the inner workings of a wind turbine. And you can test your knowledge with this Energy in Motion game.

Saul Griffith on Kites as the Future of Renewable Energy - This YouTube video shows a short talk on an interesting alternative way of harvesting the wind.

Here's Dr. Stadler speaking about Oklahoma wind power on OklahomaHorizonTV:

Here's me, singing my Wind Energy song for Evalyn's first grade class (two years ago):