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On April 27, 2012, talented students across the state gathered at the University of Maine Orono to participate in the Wind Blade Challenge and the Windstorm Challenge. The Challenge brings science, technology, engineering and mathematics together as high school students design and build their own models of wind blades and offshore wind platforms. This year 49 teams participated in the Challenge. To prepare for the challenge, students had to research, design and create their own blades with materials from a free kit provided by the competition, as well as the help of several Maine composites businesses or facilities to help infuse the blades. On the day of the Challenge students gave a presentation to a panel of judges explaining their design and engineering processes, which was followed by testing the energy output of each design.
Testing of the blades involved running three powerful fans for approximately two minutes to measure the voltage of energy produced by the blade. Blade design varied by group- some groups had 2 or 3 blades while others had 4 or 5. Each group was creative with their design, decorating it according to school colors. One group from Lake Region even decorated their blades with colorful starburst wrappers while keeping it aerodynamic!
Gus Goodwin, who teaches technology education at King Middle School in Portland, brought eight of his students to the competition. They began working on their design in March and produced a working 3-blade model with the support of Rumery’s Boat Yard in Biddeford.
Erin Demshar, a physics teacher at Madison Area Memorial High School, entered four groups (16 students) in the Windstorm Challenge. Students began working on the project weekly in February to design a floating platform model that could support a wind turbine while staying in place in the pool against manufactured waves. Demshar said, “The competition gives students an opportunity to explore physics, design, engineering, construction, and marketing of a product”. For many of her students who are looking to go into similar fields, this competition was a valuable learning experience, not to mention they had fun! All of their hard work paid off because all four of their teams placed.
All members of the winning teams of the competition will receive a $20,000 paid internship at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center if they are accepted and attend the program.
The winners from the competitions were:
Overall 1st Place — Team MMA, Madison Area Memorial High School
Overall 2nd Place — Ben Danh Joe Alex, Madison Area Memorial High School
Overall 3rd Place — Seahawks, Boothbay Region High School
Overall 4th Place — Oober and the Goober, Middle School of the Kennebunks
Overall 5th Place — The Wok, Winthrop High School
Stability 1st Place — The Wok, Winthrop High School
Stability 2nd Place — Team MMA, Madison Area Memorial High School
Stability 3rd Place — W.I.B. – Seal Team 3, Old Town High School
Stability 4th Place — Lyndsay Marcus Hannah Cody, Madison Area Memorial High School
Stability 5th Place — Seahawk, Boothbay Region High School.
Wind Blade Challenge:
1st Place — Easton High School
2nd Place — Presque Isle High School Team No. 3
3rd Place — Mt. Blue High School
People’s Choice Award — Orono High School
Wind Blade Challenge Teacher of the Year — John McDonald of Foster Technology Center
Wind Blade Challenge Composite Partner of the Year — The Boat School of Eastport