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K-State Today

March 19, 2024

Engineering Extension sends 22 Kansas teams to statewide KidWind Challenge

Submitted by David Carter

From six regional Kansas KidWind Challenges held throughout the state of Kansas, the Kansas Energy Program in K-State's Engineering Extension department has invited 22 of the top teams to participate in the Kansas Statewide KidWind Challenge in Salina on Saturday, April 13. The 22 teams were narrowed down from a field of 84 teams from 50 schools that participated in the six regional challenges.

The 22 teams will now compete for four positions to advance to the KidWind Worlds competition in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 7-9. Kansas schools have produced a national champion in each of the last four on-site national competitions, and last year, two Kansas teams earned national titles.

In the KidWind Challenge, student teams work together to design, build and test a wind turbine using the materials of their choice. Turbine blades are made with everything from soda cans to vinyl records — no two look alike; one Alaskan team at the national competition even made blades from whale baleen. Each team's turbine will be put to the test in a 48-inch by 48-inch wind tunnel at a wind speed of approximately 3.0 meters per second, or 6.7 miles per hour.

Students compete by age categories: fourth through eighth grade or ninth through 12th grade. Scoring is based on turbine performance, a knowledge quiz, a presentation to judges where the team explains its design process, and an instant challenge. The winning teams at regional events advance to the state finals on April 13 in Salina.

The Kansas Energy Program has conducted the Kansas KidWind Challenge since 2018. The Kansas KidWind Challenge saw a record 94 teams from 55 schools in 2023. Although the 2024 registration started on track with perhaps a new record number of teams, an unexpected number of snow days in December and January resulted in 23 teams dropping out because of lack of time to prepare for the event. The reduction in teams certainly did not mar the success of the 2024 season.

"This may be the most competitive KidWind season we've had," said Kurt Foley, energy specialist with the Kansas Energy Program. "It has been a lot of fun seeing the creativity and problem-solving skills of students from all over the state. It will be an exciting day to see all of the top teams from across Kansas competing for an invitation to the KidWind Worlds competition. No matter who advances, Kansas will be well-represented at the next level."

Kansas KidWind is an energy-related STEM education event from the Kansas Corporation Commission and K-State Engineering Extension made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Funding from corporate sponsors — Enel Green Power North America, Kansas Electric Cooperatives and Invenergy, to name a few — helps the Kansas Energy Program reimburse schools for mileage and substitute stipends, and provide lunch during the challenges.

More information about KidWind is available on the website

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