Not long ago, Northumberland Middle School students Izaak Hagy and Nathan Parker proved perhaps an unspoken hypothesis: Legos can have a practical use. A competition-winning practical use. That was the case when Legos were the building blocks for Parker and Hagy’s unique wind turbine that they entered into the KidWind Challenge in Virginia Beach last month.
When the turbine was tested in the wind tunnel with a load, it generated so much power that Remy Pangle, Associate Director of the Virginia Center for Wind Energy, called KidWind Founder Michael Arquin and asked him if anyone else’s turbine had ever made that much power in the challenge before.
Arquin’s response? No, not in the United States.
Parker and Hagy, representing the Northumberland Indians, won the competition in Virginia Beach in record-setting fashion.
And this coming Saturday, they aim to do it again when they head to Washington, D.C. for the first-ever National KidWind Challenge.
“Thinking like scientists, using the habits of scientists is what I’m so proud of them for doing,” said the boys’ coach, Gifted Resources teacher and KidWind trained WindSenator Jenny Dunaway. She pointed out that the project was 100 percent the work of Izaak and Nathan.
“This may impact what they choose to take with their college and higher learning career,” she said.
Parker and Hagy are part of the middle school’s Talented and Gifted Program.
Dunaway, noting that one of their theme-based units focused on a blade design activity for a wind turbine, said that the two boys’ interest and natural scientific engineering thinking “suited them perfectly” for the KidWind challenge.
While all competitors must used the same KidWind generator that comes in a kit, the drive train and blade design are “only limited by your imagination and creativity,” said Dunaway.
For their wind turbine, Parker and Hagy assembled Legos they had collected over time into a gear box that would work with the motor. They used a 12-to-1 gear ratio and a unique air foil design to out-power any other wind turbine ever featured in either the high or middle school divisions of the Kid Wind Challenges across the nation when they won in Virginia Beach.