As a high school Physics teacher, you can use this set of computer-based tools to help you in teaching about power, energy, and dynamics through the design and function of a wind turbine.
This lesson plan will help you teach various Physics concepts such as power, energy, and dynamics through the working of a wind turbine. In the context of global warming due to carbon emissions, wind power is a renewable and clean source of energy that can be harnessed as electricity by wind turbines. Thus, this lesson plan will enable the students to apply the concepts of energy, electrical energy, and power in a real-world scenario.
Thus, the use of this lesson plan allows you to integrate the teaching of a climate science topic with a core topic in Physics.
This is a lesson plan developed by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes (CLEX) and the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub (MCCCRH) with contributions by Troy Garrett (Winmalee High School); Dr Sanaa Hobeichi and Dr Ian Macadam (CLEX); Tahnee Burgess and Dr David Holmes (MCCCRH); and Dr. Roger Dargaville (Monash University).
The lesson plan originated at the “Climate across the Curriculum: Educational Resources for Teachers” workshop at the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) conference held in February 2020 in Fremantle, Western Australia. The workshop was supported by AMOS, CLEX, MCCCRH, the Schools Weather and Air Quality (SWAQ) Citizen Science project, TROP ICSU and the University of Western Australia. A version of the lesson plan tailored for use in Australian classrooms is available at https://www.monash.edu/mcccrh/projects/climate-classrooms.
Curriculum Code (Australia):
- ACSPH037: Electrical circuits enable electrical energy to be transferred efficiently over large distances and transformed into a range of other useful forms of energy including thermal and kinetic energy, and light.
- ACSPH039: Energy is conserved in the energy transfers and transformations that occur in an electrical circuit.
- ACSPH042: Power is the rate at which energy is transformed by a circuit component; power enables quantitative analysis of energy transformations in the circuit.
- ACSPH065: Energy is conserved in isolated systems and is transferred from one object to another when a force is applied over a distance; this causes work to be done and changes to kinetic and/or potential energy of objects.
Cross Curriculum Priority (Australia): Sustainability
Presumed Knowledge (Australia):
- Kinetic energy (ACSPH065)
- Conservation of energy (ACSPH039)
- Electrical energy and power (ACSPH037)
- Rate of energy and power (ACSPH042)
About Lesson Plan
|Grade Level||High school|
|Topic(s) in Discipline||Power, Energy, Work, Conservation of Energy, Electrical Energy,
Dynamics, Transformers, Wind Turbine
|Climate Topic||Energy, Economics and Climate Change
Climate Mitigation and Adaptation
Use this lesson plan to help your students find answers to:
- What is wind energy?
- How can wind power be harnessed for electricity using wind turbines?
- How can you compute the energy available due to wind?
- What are the advantages and challenges of producing electricity from a wind turbine?
Contents of Lesson Plan
|Teaching Module (20 min)||A teaching module to introduce or reacquaint students with concepts such as energy and power. It also includes a case study highlighting the World’s Energy Use and the need for renewable sources of energy.
This can be accessed here.
|Video (~5.5 min)||A video to introduce wind turbines and how they harness wind energy (a renewable source) to generate electricity.
This can be accessed here.
|Classroom Activity (2.5 min + 40 min)||A brief video to explain the physics of wind power followed by a solved word problem to compute the wind energy available for wind turbines to convert to electrical energy.
The video can be accessed here.
Here is a step-by-step guide to using this lesson plan in the classroom/laboratory. We have suggested these steps as a possible plan of action. You may customize the lesson plan according to your preferences and requirements.
Step 1: Topic introduction and discussion
- Use the teaching module, ‘6: Power’ by LibreTextsTM to bring together concepts we have learnt so far- energy, power, work, electrical energy, conservation of energy and transformers.
- Play the video tutorial within the text, to teach how numerical problems can be solved for computing values such as energy generated, and work done.
- Navigate to the next page (6.7), to read a case study on the World’s Energy Use.
- Discuss how fossil fuel-based energy generation is undesirable in the context of climate change and the need to increase the use of renewable and cleaner sources of energy such as wind energy.
This can be accessed here.
Step 2: Extend understanding
- Explain to your students that they will now apply their understanding of the different concepts learnt in physics in a real-world situation by looking at how wind turbines work and identify the physics principles behind this form of renewable energy.
- Ask your students what they already know about wind turbines and about how they work. Allow the students to respond with their ideas and summarize their main points on the board.
- Play the video, ‘How do Wind Turbines Work’ by LearnEngineering, to introduce the topic of using wind energy to generate electricity by wind turbines. Use this video to describe various aspects of wind turbines and the science involved in the electricity they produce.
- Allow some time for a classroom discussion following the video. Draw attention to Betz’s Limit as a new idea.
The video can be accessed here.
Step 3: Classroom Activity
- Ask your students: How can we determine the kinetic energy of a mass of air of density that is moving at the speed through a turbine of radius r?
- Form groups and encourage your students to determine the general formula for calculating the kinetic energy of a mass of moving air. Students will need to combine density ( ρ=m/V) ) with the volume of airflow (V=Av ), the area of a circle ( A=πr2)with the kinetic energy formula (1/2 mv2 ) to define the kinetic energy of a mass of air as (KE=1/2 πr2 ρv3 ).
- Play the video, ‘The Physics of Wind Power: how does a wind turbine work?’ by the European Energy Centre (EEC) to elucidate how the kinetic energy of a mass of air moving through a wind turbine can be determined. This can be accessed here.
- Solve a word problem with guidance:
Consider a wind turbine with a span of 100 m is situated at a site, subjected to constant 8ms(-1) wind. If the air density is 1.25 kgm(-3), how much kinetic energy passes through the plane of the blades every second?
Solution: We can directly substitute in the formula KE=1/2πr2 ρv3, but instead we will use a different strategy.
- Determine the area of the plane
- Determine the volume of air passing through plane every second
- Determine the mass of air passing through plane every second
- Calculate the kinetic energy of the mass of air passing through the plane every second
At 8ms(-1), volume through plane
V=7854m2 × 8 ms(-1)
V=62,832 m3 s(-1)
With density of ρ=1.25 kgm(-3)
m=1.25 kg(m)(-3) × 62,832 m3 s(-1)
Kinetic energy every second
KE=1/2 (78,540 kg s(-1) ) × 82 m2 s(-2)
KE/s = 2.513×(10)6 Js(-1)
P = 2.513 × (10)6 W = 2513 kW
5. Give a word problem for independent practice
Consider a wind turbine with a span of 50 m is situated at a site, subjected to a constant 12 ms-1 wind. If the air density is 1.23 kgm(-3), how much kinetic energy passes through the plane of the blades every second? Round your answer to 3 s.f.
Kinetic Energy every second
(KE)/s =1/2 πr2 ρv3
(KE)/s=1/2 π (50)2 (1.23) (123 ) (m2 )(kg/m3) (m/s)3
(KE)/s=8,340,000 m2 kg s(-3)
(KE)/s =8.34 × (10)6 J s(-1)
P = 8.34 × (10)6 W = 8,340 kW
6. Wrap up the session with a discussion on ways other than wind energy to generate sustainable energy. Discuss their benefits and caveats in the context of climate change.
7. Learning Extensions:
Electricity in Households: Draw attention to how this energy can be used in homes. We wish to sell this energy to households, and we need a unit of measure that makes sense to the average person. The unit used is called a kilowatt-hour (kWh) and is defined as the energy delivered to a 1000 W appliance over 1 hour. Determine how much 1 kWh is in terms of joules.
E=1000 J s(-1) × 3600 s
E=3.6× (10)6 J
Cost of Electrical Energy: Students to research the cost of electrical energy by visiting power-company websites to get rates. Typical rates in Australia are 0.15-0.30 AUD/kWh.
Students to then determine the revenue generated by this wind turbine per day (by multiplying Energy electrical with the rate they find).