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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Gereau students place 2nd at wind energy competition
Eighth-graders designed and built wind turbine from scrap materials
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Photo by Eric Gorton: Mykah Heaslip, from left, Jacob Hodges and Jacob Myers, all eighth-graders at The Gereau Center, make adjustments to their award winning wind turbine at the KidWind Challenge at Thomas Harrison Middle School in Harrisonburg. The turbine’s blades are made of PVC pipe. Its motor comes from a treadmill and the turbine is mounted to a television dish bracket.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Three students at the Gereau Center took second place in the 2013 KidWind Challenge at Thomas Harrison Middle School in Harrisonburg.

Mykah Heaslip, Jacob Hodges and Jacob Myers, all eighth-graders at the Gereau Center, won the $250 second-place prize in the open division for their homemade wind turbine, as well as one of two judge's awards for innovation and their creative use of recycled materials.

Their winning turbine was made of PVC pipes, which were used for blades. Its motor came from a treadmill and the turbine was mounted to a television dish bracket.

The students met with Neil Sigmon, a teacher at the Center for Energy Efficient Design (CEED), to plan and design their wind turbine, said Gereau Center Principal Kevin Bezy.

"Mr. Sigmon has a history of success in taking student teams to competitive events," said Bezy. "His students placed nationally three times in the Schools of the Future Competition, which is sponsored by the Council of Education for Facility Planners, International."  

Using scrap parts and raw materials, the students designed a turbine that withstood the wind tunnel test and produced electricity, Bezy added.

The KidWind Challenge, part of the 2013 Virginia Wind Festival, is a national wind turbine design competition for middle and high school students.

Teams are judged on their design, their knowledge of wind power and how much electricity their turbines generate.

"We had 108 students and coaches that came out from 21 different schools from all over Virginia," said Deanna Zimmerman, outreach coordinator for the Virginia Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University. "This is the second year in a row we have hosted the Virginia KidWind Challenge, and we plan to make it an annual event."

"The success of these students is a product of the inquiry-based education they are receiving in the Energy Engineering module housed in the CEED," said Bezy.

The KidWind Challenge was one of a number of events at the 2013 Virginia Wind Festival. In addition to the KidWind Challenge, the festival also featured a hot air balloon demonstration and a mobile literacy vehicle for the Reading Road Show, which highlighted children's books about wind energy. There was also an exhibit area where attendees could learn more about wind energy products and services, as well as talk to homeowners who have installed wind turbines.

More information about the Wind Festival activities can be found at

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