Novel Introductory Investigations into Green Energy – Solar, Wind, and More

Tuesday 3:20pm-3:40pm Weeks Geo: AB20
Teaching Demonstration Part of Tuesday Teaching Demos

Session Chair

Bob McCallister, University of Wisconsin Baraboo/Sauk County


This conference being so important, I would like the opportunity to briefly present each of the aforementioned topics with emphasis on the creation of the solar PV fan and conversion to wind power generator. Typically, my sessions like this are in more of a workshop format. I would agree to a trimmed-down recommendation if my proposal is accepted. Attendees will be able to handle all materials and try them out and learn where to obtain supplies.


Session begin by introducing the UW-Rock County Solar Project. As a long-term experiment open to all, with a 6 kW system designed with three differently configured solar PV arrays. Activity example using project's web interface will include watts generated and powering appliances.

A demonstration with additional hands-on by participants will use solar mini-PV panels with overhead projectors and/or natural sunlight. Electricity is measured in simulation activities for: sun daily movement across the sky, seasonal variation, and various cloud conditions. Example demonstration of creating a solar PV-powered fan with additional hands-on by participants. The solar fan is then converted into a working wind power generator and electrical output is measured. On display is a buffet of green energy learning examples: solar and wind, geothermal heat pump design, micro-hydro for your home, and raptor conservation-landfill electricity. Basic materials and concepts used in all activities are adaptable across a wide array of age-groups and abilities.

Outcomes: Educators gain confidence with basic concepts and hands-on use of simple equipment to transform sunlight and wind into electricity. Participants interact with time-tested materials and gather ideas to adapt activities for diverse participant groups and learning levels.


The solar and wind related activities have been adapted for use with students ranging in age from K-adult. Outreach classroom-based learning, STEM workshops, and participatory science fair exploration stations are other common formats. I use the solar and wind activities in my introductory college-level environmental, and energy classes, along with the example geothermal, and micro-hydro design activities.

Why It Works

The hands-on aspect of much of this lends itself to the individual creativity of the student and instructor participants and opens up interest in those who may not be so intrigued by printed-word driven learning activities. Educators appreciate that the materials they work with are readily attainable and understandable. Educators have very enthusiastically evaluated/responded to these sessions and leave ready to try their own versions of these learning experiences.