KidWind Wind Turbine Testing

05/01/2021 3:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, Makersmiths hosted the Northern Virginia KidWind wind turbine testing for youth participating in the 2021 KidWind Turbine Challenge. Two teams from Makersmiths (Team 1: Caleb Nicholson and Team 2: Connor Ellis and Soren Ogelman) and one team from Cardinal Ridge ES brought the wind turbines they created this past year to test them in a wind tunnel that James Madison University set up in our Makersmiths-Purcellville location.

Makersmiths members, Diane Painter and Jennifer Chu, served as coaches for our Makersmiths KidWind teams.  During the work sessions (November 2020-Feb 2021 before COVID caused us to go online), the team members learned about the function of gears from Makersmiths member, Ralph Pugh who is an electrical engineer.  They learned to design gears using a program found online at  They then designed their blades in a CAD program called Tinkercad. Pictured is Caleb's wind turbine blades that he 3D printed.  Caleb used a direct drive, meaning he did not make a gear box for it. 


KidWind team members, Soren and Connor, used their Tinkercad designs to laser print the blades (shown below). Soren built a wooden 3:1 gear ratio generator with help from Makersmiths member, Dave Painter. 

How did the wind tunnel testing go? The wind turbines with a gear box out powered the wind turbine using direct drive. However, Team 2: Connor and Soren's wind turbine spun so quickly that one of the blades broke off! In the end, the team from Cardinal Ridge ES out performed both our Makersmiths teams. They used cardboard to create their blades but used a 8:1 gear ratio gearbox. What can we say about our KidWind wind turbine experience? Our teams learned a lot about solar power, wind turbines, designing blades in a CAD program, and how to create things on 3D printers and a laser cutter. They also discovered the value of adding a gear box to a wind turbine since the wind turbines with gear boxes produced the most power.  Team members also learned about pitch (angle of the blades) and how to collect performance data. So in the end, they learned a lot of making skills, and after all, isn't that what Makersmiths is all about?

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Makersmiths Leesburg: 106 Royal St SW, Leesburg, VA 20175
Makersmiths Purcellville: 785 S. 20th St, Purcellville, VA 20132

You can also watch Virtual Tours on our YouTube Channel!                                 

Join us

Normally the best way to get to know us better is to just come on by during one of our Open Houses:

  • Leesburg Open House: Thursdays 6-8pm
  • Purcellville Open House: Tuesdays 6-8pm

You can email to request a tour if those days don't work for you. We're here to help get you making the best way we can!  


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