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Wind turbine to help teach Chartiers Valley students about energy

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 1:33 p.m.

Chartiers Valley technology teachers Mark McAleer and Chad Warren had a problem – how to get a wind turbine from Iowa to the district's middle and high school location in Bridgeville.

“The tower 35 feet long, and it was difficult to find a transporter that was will to transport at a reasonable rate,” McAleer said.

The turbine – or windmill – came from a grant written and received by Warren and McAleer, but its inception goes back farther.

After attending training in North Carolina in 2011, the two technology teachers were tasked with integrating the technology curriculum into the middle school. From there, it was decided that the lessons on energy and the environment fit best is the seventh grade.

Now they were faced with a new question: How to make the lessons – specifically that of wind energy – stick with the kids. So they decided to buy a windmill.

“We researched small wind generators and found very limited information that was usable,” McAleer said. “We needed something that would generate in a 6 – 8 mph wind.”

After more than a year of phone calls, emails and roadside visits, they found a solution: the Skystream 3.7.

The 35-foot tall wind turbine will sit at the entrance to the middle and high school. The diameter of the rotors is 12 feet, and it can produce 1,800 to 2,400 watts of electricity. It will be used to power the LED display sign that sits at the campus entrance. The turbine will rotate with the wind, creating an electrical current that will feed back into the electrical grid.

It will not just power the LED sign, McAleer said.

“Students will learn about renewable energy sources,” he said. “We will also integrate mathematics and science lessons.”

One issue remained: How to get the device to the school. The solution, after some negotiating, came rather easily. McAleer said he thinks the logistics have been resolved, and the company from which they are purchasing the turbine plan to provide shipment in the next several weeks.

“Fortunately, the seller of the wind turbine has a truck coming this way and was able to work in a very competitive shipping rate for us,” he said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or mguza@tribweb.com.

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