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Teachers train with Kidwind project

Educators from throughout northwest Iowa came to Estherville Thursday to find new and innovative ways to teach the science of wind energy to their students in the classroom.

Held at the Iowa Lakes Community College wind turbine and energy technology building, Kidwind explores energy transformations and alternative energy resources. The program is one of several funded by a $64,000 grant from the governor’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiative. Another program was held the previous day in Sioux City.

Kidwind was selected as a service provider for the governor’s STEM Initiative Scale Up through a competitive application process in spring of 2012. As one of 12 service providers, Kidwind was one of the most popular choices among instructors in Northwest Iowa.

Joe Rand, Kidwind training and outreach director, said the purpose of the workshop is to initiate teachers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics of wind. In a Thursday morning session, teachers learned what makes wind turbines work and in the afternoon they learned how blades generate power.

Kari Webb, stem coordinator for northwest Iowa, and based at Iowa Lakes, said each teacher received $1,000 in parts such as blades and generators to take back to the classroom and teach their students.

Rand said that over the last 10 years Kidwind has trained 8,000 teachers. He said Iowa Lakes was the fifth site where he’s trained teachers through STEM scale-up grants.

“Kidwind really paid it forward,” Webb said of the organization’s involvement.

Jason Holt, Estherville Lincoln Central High School ag instructor, had applied for a grant for his son’s 4-H Club, the Inventors 4-H Club, which has had a Lego League since late September.

Jared Pickett, Emmetsburg High School physics and physical science instructor, has already had two of his students in the wind program at Iowa Lakes. He’d like to take the technology he was learning Thursday back to the classroom so students entering the program in the future could get a jump start.

“I’d like to see more kids in Emmetsburg take advantage of this opportunity,” Pickett said. “I’d love to give them a jump start on it.”

Also working on a turbine Thursday were Sarah Brugman and Robin Hauswirth of Emmetsburg Middle School.

“We’re doing this together with our sixth graders in math and science,” Brugman said.