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KidWind Competition to Build the Most Efficient Turbine

The fourth annual KidWind Simulation Challenge for grades four through 12 tasks students with using a CAD program and virtual simulations to design wind energy systems and test their efficiency.

Wind turbines near Beaumont, Kansas.
(AP/Charlie Riedel)
A global competition from the science equipment supplier Flinn Scientific is challenging students in grades four through 12 to see who can build the most efficient virtual wind farms and turbines.

Registration for the 2024 KidWind Simulation Challenge is open now, with finalists to be announced March 15, according to a news release this week. Every participating student in the United States will receive an access code to Flinn Scientific’s Whitebox Learning, a web-based classroom tool with computer-aided design (CAD) functions. Students in other countries do not receive free access but are still eligible to participate.

According to KidWind’s website, middle school and high school students compete in two separate divisions, whether they enter the contest individually or with a team. All entries must have an adult coach that serves as the point of contact.

Whitebox Learning has STEM applications for designing survival shelters, gliders, prosthetics, drones, structures, rockets and rovers to use on Mars, according to Flinn Scientific’s website, but KidWind competitors will use it to design windmill blades and test them in varying weather conditions on a virtual turbine, ideally learning about physics in the process. In the second part of the challenge, students will design and virtually construct entire windfarms, competing to generate the most power at the lowest cost. Scores are based on blade design and performance in the simulations.

The annual challenge, now in its fourth year, teaches students about design concepts related to wind energy systems, according to a public statement from KidWind founder Michael Arquin.

KidWind will post a weekly leaderboard during the competition, with the numbers based on participant quiz scores, submitted design work and demonstrated knowledge of how these concepts apply in the renewable energy industry. The top three entries in each division will advance to the world finals in Minneapolis in May, according to the news release.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory also contributed to this event, according to the news release.

Since 2004, KidWind has held more than 800 training sessions attended by more than 50,000 teachers worldwide. The company’s inaugural Simulation Challenge took place in 2021, when many students were still learning remotely.