As of June 23, Oshkosh has a new feature to its skyline: a wind turbine. This new feature of Garden County Schools was originally installed to generate electricity for the new greenhouse. “As the greenhouse was discussed, the idea of sustainability was brought. Ideas were thrown around about how we could cut down on electrical costs in the future,” Sarah Placke, science and agriculture education instructor for GCHS, explains. “The Extension Office gave us a lead on some possible grants that could pay for renewable energy sources.”
Research lead us to a program that Nebraska has been a successful participant of called Wind for Schools. Twenty-three high schools across the state have, or will have, a SkyStream 3.7. This 2.4 kilowatt turbine is designed for homes and small businesses. It has a 45 foot tall tower and three 6 foot blades creating a swept area of 115.7 feet. The rated speed is 50 – 330 rpm.
“The great part about this project,” Placke says, “is it opens so many opportunities for our students.” Not only will this produce clean energy for the greenhouse, it will also be used for educational purposes in science and ag classes. Students will be exposed to hands on activities that explore and compare the effectiveness of wind turbines and other energy sources, examine how energy is created within the generator itself, and use data collected by the turbine and turbines all over the state to see when energy is created most effectively. “There is a growing number of jobs related to alternative energy sources. Sparking the interest of high school students now will help to ensure that future generations will have the knowledge and skills to produce clean alternative energy.”
For more information on the Wind for Schools project and to see what other schools are participating go to http://engineering.unl.edu/academicunits/electricalengineering/outreach/windforschools/index.shtml.