Harnessing the Power of the Wind is not a New Concept

Wind turbines are all the rage right now, for those who support them as good sources of renewable energy and those who oppose them as eyesores. As the title subtly suggests, while in the news today, this is not a new concept. Stationary objects harnessing wind power have been around since first century Greece!

The engineer Heron of Alexandria powered a machine using a wind-driven wheel. No idea what that machine was, but I bet it wasn't generating electricity. In slightly more modern 9th century Persia, the first horizontal windmill was devised. Think of a typical windmill and turn it on its side. 

Photo by Kaboldy

The horizontal windmill, just like many of its later vertical brethren, was used to grind grain into flour or pump water.

Vertical windmills bear that iconic image from childhood stories.

  By Uberprutser (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl via Wikimedia Commons

Yup. That's the one. And there are modern wind turbines generating electricity right next to it! Vertical windmills appeared in Europe in the 12th century and were also used to grind grain and pump water.

The first wind turbine used to generate electric comes earlier than most would expect: 1887!

ACTIVITY

Harness the Power of the Wind!

Ok, enough with the history. Do you want to make some "windmills" with your kids? I mean, what's a good educational post without some arts and crafts? You'll need a toilet paper roll, some paper, a printer, scissors, and glue. The good folks at dltk-kids even provide a template for you. Click here for the full directions.