November 8, 2012
New York, Opinions

No kidding around: KidWind teaches kids about renewables

By Jenna Shapiro | November 6, 2012 |

Even superheroes worry about the environment. A new plan launched by KidWind will use comic book characters to make learning about the science of renewable energy accessible.

KidWind is a company that has been educating students and teachers about wind energy for ten years. They offer free curricula on lessons ranging from turbine blade design to basic energy concepts to how motors work. KidWind sells kits that allow you to build your own wind turbine that can be used for a variety of experiments.

Over the last ten years, KidWind has trained over 7,000 teachers and impacted around 500,000 students across the country. Joe Rand, KidWind’s director of training and outreach, told TakePart about the importance of education in his business: “At Kidwind we think education is one of the most promising avenues to affect large scale social change. These students will go on to be the scientists and engineers we need in the renewable energy industry. But they’ll also just be a more informed public, able to make slightly more informed choices than we’re making today.”

Another big part of the KidWind mission is the KidWind Challenge. The KidWind Challenge engages students by having them design their own fully functional wind turbine. Entrants are then judged on their overall construction, the power of their turbine and their understanding of wind energy concepts. Rand has seen first hand how valuable and effective these challenges can be: “one student in New York…won the challenge his senior year. There were judges from a local engineering firm, and they offered him an internship for the summer.”

KidWind plans to keep expanding its business to reach an even greater audience. The next step they envision is entering the retail business; as of now, they sell almost exclusively to educational markets. Rand added: “Our goal is to expand beyond the classroom and affect a lot more students by engaging them in renewable energy. And they could engage with it by going to the store down the road.” To do this, the company developed a team of superhero character, KidWind and Friends, to make learning about renewable energy more fun. The gang even has a trusty sidekick dog, Circuit, who “can wag his tail with such force that he can create a strong enough breeze to power KidWind’s systems.”

To raise money to develop the superhero line, KidWind created a Kickstarter campaign. With only 12 days to complete their fundraising, KidWind is still far short of its $75,000 goal. “The Kickstarter is a big dream and we decided to see what happens. No matter what happens with Kickstarter, KidWind will keep chugging along. We haven’t lost hope, though,” said Rand.

And even if the superhero idea does not pan out, KidWind has plenty of other options to explore: “One other idea is getting a KidWind mobile lab together. We can buy an old truck and go on tour with KidWind. We’d roll up to a school, unload the truck, and hang out with kids and teachers, teaching them about renewable energy, for a day.”

No matter which avenue they pursue, KidWind will continue to spread its important message. The students they teach are the future, and by exposing them to renewable energy now, we ensure that they will be aware of energy usage down the line. If they get to read comic books while learning about it, too, then it seems like everyone wins.

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