Renewable Energy @ WPI

by Jess, Jianna, Jaelani, Karen, and Layomi

First of all, let’s start with what fossil fuels are. Fossil fuels are fuels derived from natural resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. These resources are not reliable because they will not be renewed in the human lifetime; they also emit C02, which can be very harmful to the environment when released in large amounts.

What is Renewable Energy?

Photo by Tom Swinnen on

Renewable energy is a type of energy source that we can’t run out of and doesn’t harm the atmosphere. Some examples of renewable energy are wind energy (shown in the picture to the right), solar energy, and biomass. These sources can produce energy and power towns. Environmental engineers and scientists have been pushing for renewable to become the main source of power we use.

Photo by Chris LeBoutillier on

Why not fossil fuels?

Currently, fossil fuels account for 80.2% of global electric power in the world. Fossil fuels are very harmful to the environment. When fossil fuels are burned they release Co2 into the air. Co2 is already in the air because it is what humans and animals breathe out and plants use to live. With fossil fuels also releasing Co2, it causes too much of it to be in the air, and for it to build up in the atmosphere and near the Earth’s surface. The Co2 in the atmosphere absorb lots of sunlight and heats up the Earth. This causes ice caps to melt, temperatures to increase, and ocean heights to rise. By switching to renewable energy sources like windmills, we can lower the amount of Co2 in the air and slow down the rate of the Earth heating up.

Constructing the Windmill

For our group problem set we were given the assignment to create our very own windmill. Our group began brainstorming for the best windmill designs. We were given pipe cleaners, wooden sticks, paper, cardboard, and a hot glue gun. Each group member was able to construct a different kind of windmill using these materials and then we began testing them. After testing the windmills, we decided on the windmill shown above, because of the design/blade speed. Following the testing process, we discovered that this windmill spun the fastest so we chose it to be the one we would use for the next step in our packet.

Coding the Windmill

The next (and final) part in our problem set was to create code that would count the number of rotations the windmill spun in a minute. We were provided with blocks that we were able to code to carry out this assignment. Our group used a light sensor block (pink), number block (green), power connecter block (orange) and lastly a power on/off block (blue). We placed the light sensor in a place that would be able to catch the shadow and light. Then we programmed the blocks so when a windmill blade passed over the light sensor, it would count up once with the number block. This would happen because when the windmill blade passed over the light sensor the blade would cast a shadow over the block causing the number block to count up.

Visual of our Blocks
Visual of our code

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