One-hundred high school and middle school students from across the Columbia Gorge competed in the 2014 Wind Challenge event on May 3, racing against the clock to build the strongest, fastest wind turbines.
Over a three-hour period, 18 teams of students worked with mentors to build wind turbines before they were put to the test in front of a panel of judges. While each team had turbines that produced energy and the competition was stiff, in the end, three winners in the high school and middle school divisions were chosen.
Middle school winners were Mill A Middle School in first place; Dufur Middle School in second, and Hood River Middle School Wind Freaks in third.
In the high school division, first place went to Dufur High School Rangers; second place, to The Dalles High School AJ’s team; and third to Columbia High School Team 1.
“The thing that really blew me away about this competition was the focus and intensity of all the teams,” said Dave Karlson, operations manager at Google. “This is precisely why we at Google partnered with the CGCC on the Wind Challenge: because it is a great way to engage students and build on the important science and math skills they learn in the classroom.”
Wasco County Commissioners Scott Hege and Rod Runyon kicked off the event, introducing the teams and the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Fair, which featured tables from Columbia Gorge Community College, the Discovery Center and local student robotics programs. The commissioners visited the STEM fair to build their own mini wind turbines with local students.
“It’s exciting to see what our kids are capable of doing and to also see great corporate and community college support that makes these kinds of activities possible,” said Rep. Mark Johnson, who sits on the House Education Committee. “We are ground zero for STEM education in Oregon, and it was great to see today’s kids developing the 21st century skills our state needs.”