WARRIOR WIND: the wind is powering part of one metro school district thanks to work from the students and money from a soda maker

Posted on: 4:04 pm, May 11, 2011, by , updated on: 12:39pm, March 5, 2012

You’ll find something new on the Waukee School District’s campus: a wind turbine that will power part of the school. Students started working on bringing renewable energy to the district more than two years ago. This week, they’re celebrating a completed project, and what it means for the school in and out of the classroom.

It’s 90 feet tall with three ten foot blades that will soon be spinning in the sky. Junior Violet Saylor says, “It just kind of fits in with our skyline, over the stadium. The lights, it just kind of looks like it was meant to be there.”

Saylor is a member of the Warrior’s Earth Club, which worked to bring wind power to Waukee. It all started with a desire for renewable energy and a push to win money from the soda maker Pepsi. Saylor says, “We had to vote everyday for a month. We got the community involved and the school involved. We had kids signed up at lunch, at sporting events before the musical.”

Thanks to the voting, the school won a $50,000 Refresh Everything grant. With that and help from Van Wall Energy, they were able to put up the turbine that would typically cost $85,000. Earth Club Co-Sponsor Stephanie Groathouse says, “It would power a house, a normal home, so obviously for a school district, that doesn’t quite cut it.”

Groathouse says the turbine will power the lights, scoreboard and sprinkler system for the softball and baseball fields. She says she doesn’t know exactly how much money the school will save because it depends on how much the district is charged for electricity. She says, “But, it hooks into the grid, so when the wind is blowing, we’re producing energy and the meter, it’s attached it will go backwards basically.”

You can see the wind turbine from many views around campus and even the community. Groathouse says it won’t only help power part of the school. It will also serve as a tool in the classroom. Groathouse says, “It will be hooked up to computers eventually and teachers at all the schools will be able to get the data, and see what the wind speeds are in Iowa.”

Groathouse says math and science teachers can use that information for real-world lessons, and serve as an example for the community. Groathouse says, “Show that everybody can make at least a little difference, so hopefully we’ll inspire someone else.”

Saylor says the Earth Club members are already inspired to do more, and they’ll always have a reminder of what they’ve done when they look to the sky.

You can check out the new wind turbine for yourself. The school will host a ribbon cutting Friday at 12:30 in the afternoon.

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