Every once in a while we come across a unique and innovative organization trying to make the world a better place through green technology. Such is the case of the KidWind Project located in St. Paul, Minnesota. The company is a team of teachers, engineers, and scientists committed to energy education for the next generation. Over the past 5 years the KidWind Project has trained more than 4500 teachers in 37 states about integrating wind energy science and technology into classrooms.
To learn more about them, we recently interviewed project director Michael Arquin:
EarthTechling (ET): What is the backstory of KidWind? Why was it started?
Michael Arquin: I started KidWind in 2003 when I was a sixth grade science teacher in California. I had been doing quite a bit of work with my students on solar energy doing the Jr. Solar Sprint and other similar activities and wanted one year to start teaching about wind. I was kind of a renewable energy geek! I started to purchase some the wind energy materials that were available from other vendors and was really unhappy with the high price and poor quality of products available. I started tinkering around with some new ways to get students engaged with wind energy, and from there we were off and running.
Things really took off after I received a teacher fellowship at the Wright Center for Science Education at Tufts University. During this fellowship I was able to develop my ideas more fully, do some writing and get the materials out on the web to share with as many teachers as possible. In the summer of 2004 we held our first workshops for teachers in Maine.
The KidWind website was launched in the same year offering free lesson plans and wind energy kits online. The first kit sold for $25 and was shipped from the headquarters of my basement in Arlington, MA. Now we have a small company with 16 employees whose primary focus is the production, development of dissemination of high quality educational materials related to wind energy.
While other companies try to compete with our products, we find our model of open source curriculum development is really hard to beat. All of our print materials, lesson and construction plans are freely downloadable from our website. We sell parts and kits so you can spend only what you need to and you can call KidWind anytime for support. Many times the person who answers the phone and deals with your questions is me.