Photo contributed by KidWind Project
A national program dedicated to teaching kids about the benefits and mechanics of wind energy is coming to Boardman.
The KidWind Challenge, where students design, build and demonstrate their own functioning wind turbines, will hold a competition March 18 at Riverside Junior-Senior High School. Challenges are also slated for Portland, Seattle, Medford and Ellensburg, Washington across the Pacific Northwest.
Jon Roschke, regional director for the KidWind Project, will lead a workshop for teachers Saturday at Riverside to provide materials and develop lesson plans.
“It’s just really fun, hands-on learning for the kids,” Roschke said.
The teacher workshop is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is sponsored by EDP Renewables, which operates two wind farms in Eastern Oregon — one in Arlington, and one in Union. Avangrid Renewables, a subsidiary of Iberdrola which owns a number of wind projects in Gilliam and Sherman counties, is also a sponsor.
Roschke, who lives in Portland, also has ties to the wind energy industry. He spent two and a half years working for a wind manufacturer in Newberg, and started his own renewable energy consulting company in 2011.
In 2013, Roschke received a $30,000 grant from Facebook to hold four KidWind workshops around the state, including one in Pendleton, which he said was highly successful.
“I’ve been trying to find more ways to fund activities in Eastern Oregon,” Roschke said. “I love to be in an area where wind is a big issue.”
KidWind was founded in 2002, based in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Approximately 11,000 students, from sixth through 12th grade, have competed in the KidWind Challenge, including 1,334 during the 2015-16 school year.
The goal of the program, Roschke said, is to teach the importance of wind energy through affordable, available resources.
“I like to just answer some of the myths and misconceptions of wind,” he said. “There’s a lot of pros and cons to every energy source. To have that conversation is something I love.”
Renewable energy is something that will impact students’ lives for years to come, Roschke said, and the KidWind Challenge is something that can get their creative juices flowing.
“Learning doesn’t just have to be by reading a book,” he said. “You can actually be building something.”
For more information about the KidWind Challenge, contact Roschke at 503-989-6824. Registration ends Friday for Saturday’s teacher workshop.
Contact George Plaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0825.