Pinwheels and Windmills

Wind sure can be powerful!  Many on the east coast witnessed this in the extreme this week with Hurricane Sandy.  We didn’t even lose power but I know many weren’t so lucky.  It got me thinking about wind and harnessing that power.  We don’t live near any operating windmills but I was wondering if they were generating crazy amounts of power Monday!  Personally I am all for windmills.  They had me at generating-renewable-energy-without-producing-greenhouse-gases!  

How a wind turbine works

Here’s a simple video of how they work.  Check it out!

Interesting facts about wind power…

  • Wind is a form of solar power caused but the uneven heating of the earth plus the earths rotation
  • In 1990 California’s wind power offset the the production of 2.5 billion pounds of carbon monoxide and 15 million pounds of other pollutants!
  • As early as 200 BC windmills were used in Persia or present day Iran to draw up water and grind grains.

To learn more about wind power visit the Wind Energy Development page and Wikipedia’s Wind Turbine page.

Why did we give up on windmills?

I live on Cape Cod where there are several historic windmills that were used for grinding corn in colonial times.  The Judah Baker windmill which is not too far from where I live is restored and open for tours.  Did you know that on this type of windmill the whole roof rotated for the sails to face the wind?  How?  By pushing on that long pole opposite the sails that has a wheel on the end.  Heave-ho!

Simple Pinwheel Craft

What you’ll need…

  • a piece of origami paper (6 inch square)
  • drinking straw
  • sewing pin
  • chipboard (from a cereal box)
  • needle-nose pliers

Here’s how…

  1. draw a straight line from one corner to the opposite corner on the origami paper; repeat between the other 2 corners
  2. measure 1 inch from the center along the lines, mark, then cut from the corners to the marks
  3. cut out a 2 inch square and a 1 inch diameter circle of chipboard and pierce a hole in the center of each with the pin,
  4. with the origami paper, loop the same corner from each flap to the center leaving enough area to support the pin
  5. stack the circle, pinwheel, square and straw then pin together
  6. with the needle-nose pliers snip off the point and twist remainder of pin into a loop

Further reading…

Books about wind power

Energy Island: How one community harnessed the wind and changed their world by Allan Drummond

Hold onto your hats! It’s windy on the Danish island of Samso. Meet the environmentally friendly people who now proudly call their home Energy Island.

At a time when most countries are producing ever-increasing amounts of CO2, the rather ordinary citizens of Samsø have accomplished something extraordinary–in just ten years they have reduced their carbon emissions by 140% and become almost completely energy independent. A narrative tale and a science book in one, this inspiring true story proves that with a little hard work and a big idea, anyone can make a huge step towards energy conservation (Amazon description).

Click on the Amazon link to watch a video about this amazing true story!

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer and illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba’s Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone’s crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind.

Lyrically told and gloriously illustrated, this story will inspire many as it shows how – even in the worst of times – a great idea and a lot of hard work can still rock the world (Amazon description).

The Wind at Work: An Activity Guide to Windmills by Gretchen Woelfle

Updated edition due to be released March 1, 2013…

Explaining how the wind works, what windmills have contributed to the past, and why they offer environmental promise today as a source of clean, renewable energy, this revised and updated edition offers a glimpse into all the current and historical uses for wind power. Featuring new information on wind energy technology and wind farms, new photographs, and 24 wind-related activities—from keeping track of household energy use and conducting science experiments to cooking traditional meals and creating arts and crafts—this handy resource offers kids interested in the science of energy and green technologies an engaging, interactive, and contemporary overview of wind power (Amazon description).

And how about design?

Most wind turbines have 3 blades and a similar aerodynamic shape to an airplane’s jet engine.  But they don’t have to be.  I have a few that are a little different.  Take a look (click on the image for source)!

How about this one with zebra stripes?

Now why not try designing your own!  And have a (not too) windy day!

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This post is linked up with Home+School=AfterSchool at Mamasmiles.  Check out her collection of pumpkins!



I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. I cannot believe you didn’t even lose power. Amazing. Glad to hear it, though! And windmills are so great. We’re going to definitely make some; my kids will love them, and I bet we’ll end up with 100 around the house.
    Artchoo recently posted..Kid Halloween ArtMy Profile

  2. We have windmill energy farms here. One is up on the mountain and several more are being built. The windmills are huge, the police have to shut down certain roads while the pieces are being transported to the site. I do think they are quite beautiful (a very simple modern design with clean lines) but there are vocal groups here that complain the windmills ruin the look of the mountain. Most of the ones who don’t like it appear to be recent residents who have moved here, it’s not the multi generational locals as much.

    The trouble with wind generation can be they cannot make any sort of commitments to the utility of how much power they can contribute to the grid. The good thing is, unlike solar, you can generated during peak as well as non-peak hours.

    I love your pinwheel! Very hip with the pink and the zebra. One of my mommy friends would love it, she’s always dressing her baby girl in zebra and pink combos.
    Tania recently posted..Take a Picture…Eerie BeautyMy Profile

    • People complain here too. For years a developer had been trying to set up an offshore wind farm. I think the pros far outweigh the cons.

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