The Virgin Islands Energy Office, with help from the University of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Green Technology Center, has been working for several months helping high school students understand the technology of producing electricity using wind and about career opportunities in that field. The effort culminates this year on April 12 at Charlotte Amalie High School gymnasium with the KidWind Challenge. The Challenge will bring student teams from nine territorial high schools to a wind tunnel to determine who has built the most energy-efficient turbines.
The public is invited to the Challenge which will also include workshops for students when they are not actively involved in the competition. The competition is schedule to begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 2:15 p.m.
The students were supplied with basic kits for the turbines, but were free to use innovative ideas and materials in creating the blades, the gear ratios, and the foundations for the turbines. Energy Office and University staff will judge the design of the turbine as well as its efficiency. The wind tunnel will be operating at a speed of about 5 meters per second.
St. Croix schools with participating students include Manor School, St. Croix Educational Complex, St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center, and IQRA School. On St. Thomas the schools are Charlotte Amalie High School, St. Peter and Paul, All Saints Cathedral, Antilles Schools and Ivanna Eudora Kean High School.
The Kidwind Project is affiliated with a national program. This is the first year for the program in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Energy Office hopes to expand the program so that in future years, the winners from the territorial competition will be able to move on and compete in the national competition.
The mission behind these Challenge Events include:
- Getting students excited about the promise and opportunities of renewable energy—specifically wind power—and its relationship to global climate change.
- Foster opportunities for students to build, test, explore, and understand wind energy technology at a manageable scale.
- Get students—particularly girls and underrepresented populations—excited about careers in STEM fields related to renewable energy.
- Build capacity of teachers, coaches, and other educators to better understand wind energy technology and development, as well as its promise and limitations.
- Connect students to mentors and role models in the renewable energy industry.