ALEX Lesson Plan


Harnessing The Wind (Part One)

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Ginger Boyd
System: Geneva County
School: Samson Middle School
The event this resource created for:ASTA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34509


Harnessing The Wind (Part One)


In this lesson, students will investigate materials to determine which materials would be best to harness the power of the wind. Students will design, construct, and race a puff mobile.  Students will create a class chart to record data from the puff mobile race. Students will compare features from the puff mobiles with the best race times.

This lesson results from a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and ASTA.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 4
4 ) Design, construct, and test a device that changes energy from one form to another (e.g., electric circuits converting electrical energy into motion, light, or sound energy; a passive solar heater converting light energy into heat energy).*

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
P4.11: Electricity flowing through an electrical circuit produces magnetic effects in the wires. In an electrical circuit containing a battery, a bulb, and a bell, energy from the battery is transferred to the bulb and the bell, which in turn transfer the energy to their surroundings as light, sound, and heat (thermal energy).

NAEP Statement::
P4.7: Heat (thermal energy), electricity, light, and sound are forms of energy.§

NAEP Statement::
P4.8: Heat (thermal energy) results when substances burn, when certain kinds of materials rub against each other, and when electricity flows though wires. Metals are good conductors of heat (thermal energy) and electricity. Increasing the temperature of any substance requires the addition of energy.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
Crosscutting Concepts: Energy and Matter
Disciplinary Core Idea: Energy
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Given a problem to solve, students collaboratively design a device that converts energy from one form to another. In the design, students:
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • criteria
  • constraint
  • energy
  • device
  • convert
  • design
  • construct
  • kinetic
  • potential
  • transform
  • evidence
  • engineering design process
  • ask
  • imagine
  • plan
  • create
  • improve
Students know:
  • Energy can be transferred from place to place by electric currents.
Students are able to:
  • Use scientific knowledge to generate design solutions that convert energy from one form to another.
  • Describe the given criteria and constraints of the design, which include the following:
    • The initial and final forms of energy.
    • Describe how the solution functions to transfer energy from one form to another.
  • Evaluate potential solutions in terms of the desired features.
  • Modify the design solutions to make them more effective.
Students understand that:
  • Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects.
  • Engineers improve existing technologies or develop new ones but are limited by available resources.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.4.4- Identify common sources of energy used every day (e.g., electricity, gas, sun).

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

After completing this activity, students should be able to do the following:

1) describe materials which are best to "harness" the power of the wind

2) design, construct, and test a device that converts wind energy to kinetic energy.

3) create a class flow chart to illustrate data

4) make a facts chart to compare design features

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, a picture book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

toy pinwheel


for the puff mobile: (see attachment for instructions)

paper clips      

wind testing materials:

plastic grocery bags
clear plastic wrap
aluminum foil
construction paper
small fan or hair dryer     


Wind rating chart 

Puff Mobile Design & Evaluation Sheet

Puff Mobile Rubric

Puff Mobile Instructions

Technology Resources Needed:



For Teacher:  When you blow, you create moving air, or wind. When the wind pushes against an object, it can make the object move. Adding wheels to the object or adding more wind can make the object move even faster.  Lighter materials are easier to catch the wind.

At the age of 14, William Kamkwamba used the power of wind to construct a windmill and bring electricity to his village.

Teachers should always be alert to safety in the science classroom.  Please review safety guidelines with students before daily instruction.  Caution children about choking on candy, paper cuts, and the sharpness of the paper clips. Caution students with asthma. Goggles should be used any time small parts are used to protect the eyes.

For the Student:  This is an introductory lesson to wind power.  No prior knowledge is needed.



Introduce the lesson by gathering a deep breath and blowing it out. Then, ask the students to draw a picture of what they see in their science journals (expect some confused looks).  Gather another deep breath, this time blowing it out onto a pinwheel and ask the students to draw a picture of what they see in their science journals.  Give the students a few minutes to create their drawings.  Ask the students, "What was the difference in the two drawings"?   Facilitate a discussion about the power of wind (although it is invisible, it is very powerful), and then pose the question, "What could happen if someone could harness the wind?"

Read the picture book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, aloud to the students.  After reading, talk about what it means to "harness the wind".


Pass out the Wind Rating Chart (see attachment), and place the students in groups with 4 students in each group.  Using the Wind Rating Charts, the students will test different materials to investigate their ability to "harness" the wind and use the Wind Rating Chart to rate their ability. 

After groups have had some time to explore the materials, ask the following:

1.  Do you notice any similarities about the materials that easily harness the wind?   (they were thinner, lighter, easily allowed air to travel)

2.  Which material/materials worked best at harnessing the wind? (plastic grocery bags, clear plastic wrap, paper)


Pass out the Puff Mobile Design & Evaluation Sheet (see attachments) and say, "Remember that puff of air that made the pinwheel spin?  You are going to design a vehicle that is powered by a puff of air."  Allow the groups time to design, build, and test their puff mobiles.  Then section off a track and allow the groups to race their puff mobiles.  


Create a class chart on the wall or smartboard to record data from the race, including which puff mobile traveled the farthest in the shortest amount of time.  Next to that chart, create a Wind Facts Chart to compare design features of each puff mobile. Lead a discussion about the similarities or differences in the vehicles that traveled the farthest distance in the shortest amount of time. What features do they have in common that may have helped to increase their time?

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Assessment Strategies

This lesson will be assessed based on the Puff Mobile Rubric and the Puff Mobile Design and Evaluation Sheet (attached).


Students can visit the American Wind Energy Association at and click on the U.S. maps to view wind turbines in each state to compile a list of the top 10 states in the United States with the most wind operational energy projects.  Are there similarities within these states that make them better suited for wind energy? 


Students who need extra support should be placed in groups with teammates sensitive to the needs of that student.  The teacher may need to more closely supervise groups that contain students who are struggling with the concepts of this lesson.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.