Students learning by doing
A total of 60 Year 5 students were tasked with working in teams to create a small scale replica wind farm and grid as part of a Sofia 'supergrid' day at Yarm Prep School, Teesside.
Spread over two sessions, the students had to use both maths and science to take part in the hands-on exercise that can be adapted for different age groups. It was part of the school's STEAM Week held in mid-February.
First they had to efficiently build wind turbines with a minimum of materials (to keep costs down), using construction toy K'nex for the tower and art board for the blades. Variable speed electric fans provided the wind.
Once the turbines were ready, they were all connected to a 'supergrid' that was able to measure each turbine's output through a voltmeter, with the generating performances being shown on a big screen.
Each team took the name of a European country and could monitor the performance of their turbine against the others on the screen. They could both see the amount of electricity they were generating and how much they could potentially export to other countries. By creating this visual 'grid' there could be an element of competition amongst the teams.
The sessions were managed by Sofia's education consultant Rich Hurst working alongside Alice Evans from Outdoor and Sustainability Education Specialists (OASES).
The school's STEAM Week coordinator Elizabeth Ward said that the Sofia 'supergrid' complemented the 'green-themed' week perfectly and the children really enjoyed it.
"As well as building structures and modifying their designs, it was a great opportunity for the students to practise collaboration, communication and problem-solving skills. The competitive element added an air of excitement and I know the winners of the final session were delighted with their achievement.
"Hopefully, it has inspired some children to think about careers in engineering and in the green energy sector."
As well as the 'supergrid' sessions, Rich delivered an assembly presentation on the Monday of the school's STEAM Week to the whole of the junior school. Attended by 200 Year 3 to 6 students, the assembly covered the Sofia project, offshore wind and the career opportunities available now and in the future.