Windmill Educational Toys

by blackspanielgallery

A toy that can teach a child the principles of generating electricity, and the way to do this with a windmill can be educational and make the child environmentally aware.

Windmills are excellent sources of renewable energy. They turn in response to the wind, and use that turning motion to run a generator. Having a small windmill that a child can build and experiment with can plant the seed for further quest for knowledge, and can leave a lasting impression on how energy can be harvested from the wind. This is a great way to start a child thinking about alternative energy sources and the need to go green, and can lead to discussions in which the child learns about environmental responsibility.

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How Does a Windmill Work?

Wind Driven Electric Generator

The wind is used to turn blades, and this motion can be used to turn a turbine or generator.  Having something move in a circle turn something else is the easy part of the understanding.  What really must be turned is one or more, and it is usually more, loops of wire in the presence of a magnetic field. 

 

If electric charge is moved across a magnetic filed the electric charge experiences a force that moves it perpendicular to both the magnetic field and its own motion.  A metal wire has electrons, which are electric charged objects, moving about in it.  So, if you move a wire across the magnetic field the electrons in the metal will move along the wire.  The magnetic field goes from the south pole to the north pole of the magnet.  So, the loops of wire are placed between the north and the south poles of a magnet.  As the loop is rotated across the magnetic field charge will flow up on one side of the loop and down on the other, than as the sides swap position the flow is reversed.  This reversal happens when the wire loop is oriented parallel to the magnetic field.  When the loop is perpendicular to that invisible line no electrons flow.  So, the generator produces alternating current. 

 

Taking the current off of the loops for useful purposes requires metal brushes that touch two rings.  The rings are on the axel that turns the wire loops.  One ring is connected to one side of the loops, and the other ring to the other side  This arrangement of using brushes is to keep the wires from getting twisted.

 

So, a windmill takes the wind energy, converts it to mechanical energy of the turning blades and wire, which converts the turning energy to electrical energy by moving a conductor in a magnet field.   

Electric Generator

Windmills Can Pose Problems and Provide Advantages

Windmills can be unsightly, and public opinion of having them nearby is not always positive.  Windmills are large, and require much in the form of resources to build one.  And, large metal items with electrical currents inside do have to be protected against lightning strikes.  However, they can operate at night, and buildings that might hamper solar energy can funnel air flows so as to enhance windmill efficiency. 

 

Just this week there was a news item on the possibility of getting windmills offshore.   Placement away from human activity can certainly avoid the problem of having people not want to live near an ugly wind farm.  So, windmills are worth considering, and providing a working albeit small, model is a way to start the thought process.  There must be a start before a problem can be solved, and global warming must be solved.

Updated: 09/20/2015, blackspanielgallery
 
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blackspanielgallery on 10/02/2015

I thought it was different than the average toy/

CruiseReady on 10/02/2015

Super neat items for kids to enjoy learning from! My husband tells me that his grandfather - who lived way out in the country on a farm - was one of the first in his area to have several modern conveniences, including running water and a refrigerator, and they were powered by his windmill.

blackspanielgallery on 09/21/2015

The operation is not that complex, so it can be easily understood.

sheilamarie on 09/21/2015

It's a great idea to get kids interested in how alternative energy works. This would be a great project for a science fair or for a homeschool lesson.

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