Winds farms are dotting the landscape across Illinois, and now wind energy is working its way into school curriculum.
A new Illinois Wind Energy Program is being offered in three Central Illinois school districts, including Cuba Middle-Senior High in Fulton County. The program is free of charge through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Students will use turbine kits supplied through the program to learn about wind energy, engineering, economics and the environment.
“To talk about turbine speeds and heights and the constructions of the actual propeller so they can do a lot of physical and applications type of experiments in the classroom,” said Cuba agriculture teacher Doug Falk.
Cuba Middle-Senior High is already known for its green innovations. It has solar panels for power and uses a geothermal heating and cooling system. The building itself is made of local limestone.
Outside the school, there are cisterns to collect rain water to be used for irrigation, and the football field's turf is made of recycled tires.
High school science teacher Brandon Reynolds believes such features can inspire students.
“It's becoming readily apparent that we can't continue to rely on petroleum resources for energy, and as our students grow older they will have more exposure to these technologies. So having all of this stuff right here on our campus has been a great benefit,” said Reynolds.
Reynolds hopes students will gain additional inspiration from the Illinois Wind Energy Program.
Cuba Middle-Senior High School students will also visit ISU to learn directly from the scientists and engineers who work with wind turbines.
The program ends at Cuba Middle-Senior High School in the Spring of 2013, but it might not be the end of the school's involvement with wind energy. Cuba Principal Chad Willis said the school is deciding whether to install a full-size turbine.
Illinois schools can still apply for the Illinois Wind Energy Program on the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs website. The applications are due by March 1.
Story written by reporter Kelsey Wolfe