Serving the High Plains

Mesalands hosts KidWind competition

Three schools, including one from Tucumcari, participated recently in the KidWind Challenge at the North American Wind Research and Training Center at Mesalands Community College.

A total of 88 students, consisting of teams of two to six people each, participated from Tucumcari Middle School plus Marshall Middle School and Yucca Middle School, both of Clovis.

Students built wind turbines from materials such as cardboard and hot glue guns, then had three chances to test their speed with a high-powered fan.

The top two teams were from Marshall, and they qualified for the KidWind Nationals this summer in Boulder, Colorado.

Many volunteers from Mesalands helped with the event, including acting President Allen Moss, wind instructor Terril Stowe and MCC students and employees.

The sponsor of the Tucumcari competition, Pattern Energy, provided transportation for out-of-town students, lunch and access to turbine-building resources. Pattern will also cover travel expenses for the top two teams going to KidWind Nationals.

KidWind was established in 2003. Since then, over 30 states have joined the challenge with more than 40,000 students. It was Mesalands' second year in hosting the competition after a hiatus due to COVID-19 pandemic.

With a workshop for teachers taking place each November before the event, educators are given the tools and resources to prepare their pupils for the turbine tests.

"The KidWind Challenge gets students and teachers enthused with learning about power from wind and that's what we're all about," said Andy Swapp, director of Renewable and Sustainable Technology at Mesalands Community College. "We hope to make this an annual event and would like to represent the entire state of New Mexico in the future."

Students at Mesalands also had the opportunity to explore the wind-turbine nacelle at the college. Students were also able to view the tower base of the on-site Mesalands wind turbine.

Next year, Mesalands plans to encourage regional high schools to also participate.

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