This unit guides students to think like mechanical engineers as they use their knowledge of wind to design and create machines that can be used to capture wind energy. The storybook "Leif Catches the Wind" reinforces the science concept of air as wind, and introduces the field of mechanical engineering. The wind turbines found in Leif's home country, Denmark, are used as an example of a renewable energy source and a machine designed in part by mechanical engineers.
Students will look critically at several common machines (mechanical pencils, egg beaters, rolling pins) and diagram how the parts of the machine interact with other parts of the machine and allow the object to function.
Students will then use their mechanical engineering skills to explore different materials and shapes conducive to catching the wind, first by designing sails for small boats and finally for designing windmill blades.