Virtual Wind Farm

School Power…NaturallySM has an educational wind resource for students and adults to investigate the potential energy generation by wind turbines throughout New York state. This virtual wind farm tool was developed to educate citizens about this emerging innovation in renewable energy technology. Educational materials have been developed for teachers, parents, and mentors to implement a virtual wind farm activity as an exciting platform for introducing wind energy generation concepts at home or in the classroom.

Supporting Educational Materials

Teachers, parents, and mentors can use the educational wind tool and associated education materials to conduct a virtual wind farm activity at home or in the classroom. Instructor and student guidelines, concepts worksheets, and other materials outline the recommended procedure for easy implementation. Level II materials are designed for students in grades 5-8 to optimize their design for maximum yearly energy output, and Level III materials are for students in grades 9-12 to optimize the design for maximum wind farm cost effectiveness. Design criteria such as the wind farm capacity, turbine spacing, and wind farm area are specified and can be validated by the New York State Virtual Wind Farm Tool. Additional design criteria, such as a county location, can be used; however compliance with these criteria must be verified manually.

These educational materials are designed to harness students’ ingenuity with turbine concepts and the wind farm design process in order to educate them about the role that renewable energy can play in providing clean energy to schools, homes, and businesses. After completing the following educational components, students should be familiar with the wind resource throughout New York state, the fundamentals of turbine technology, site selection concepts, and recognize that there are factors beyond the design and economic viability of a wind farm that may influence whether or not it can be built.

  • Wind Energy Concepts Research – Instructors can facilitate activities from a list of resources or the students complete a worksheet requiring them to explore related websites.
  • Virtual Wind Farm Design – Using the New York State Virtual Wind Farm Tool students optimize their wind farm design for maximum energy output (Level II) and cost effectiveness (Level III) by adding and modifying wind turbines to meet the Wind Farm specifications.
  • Design Synopsis – Students explain the design decisions and influencing factors that contributed to the final result.
  • Outreach Component – Students conduct an activity (poster, website, presentation, letters, etc.) that raises awareness of wind power generation within their communities.

Statewide Content

A virtual wind farm contest can be held. Students can compete to design the most efficient virtual wind farm, using the New York State Virtual Wind Farm Tool. Scores from the design synopsis and outreach component also can be included. A statewide contest was held in the beginning of 2010 to promote this activity and resource. Sample submissions from participating schools are below. Another contest was held in January and February 2010. Students from across New York state were invited to compete in designing the most efficient virtual wind farm using the New York State Virtual Wind Farm Tool.

Virtual Wind Farm Partners

  • New West Technologies, LLC developed the New York State Virtual Wind Farm Tool along with the supporting educational materials and coordinated the statewide virtual wind contest. New West Technologies is an 8(a) certified small business that provides high quality, cost conscious, multidisciplinary technical support services for the transportation, building, power, and education sectors.
  • Members of the advisory board who contributed their knowledge and expertise in the development of this educational resource included: Dr. Pam Carpenter from the North Carolina Solar Center, Arianna Alexsandra Grindrod from the North East Sustainable Energy Association, Michael Arquin from KidWind, Bill Peruzzi of the Research Foundation at SUNY Albany, and teachers Barry Witte, Joyce Putnam, and Mike Adams.