Animal Farm STEM - Windmill Project

Animal Farm STEM - Windmill Project

Instructor Directions

Animal Farm STEM Windmill Project

Submitted by Brandt Hart

Cape Fear Center for Inquiry



Driving Question / ScenarioHow can students collaborate to design and create a functioning windmill that produces electricity?
Project SummaryThis is a hands-on project that uses George Orwell's novel, Animal Farm, as the touchstone text. Students work in groups to construct a functioning windmill that can generate electricity. Each student has a role based on the characters in the book. There are also segments of the project that focus on extracting key information from the text.
Estimated Time2-3 Weeks
Materials / Resources-Balsa Wood (1)-Large Popsicle Sticks (4)-Medium Popsicle Sticks( 2)-Standard Popsicle Sticks (10)-Mini Popsicle Sticks (5)-Large Dowel (1)-Standard Dowels (2)-Mini Dowels (4)                        -Buffer Pads (2)-¼ Inch Washer (1)-Large Washer (1)-Roofing Screw (1)-Decking Screws (2)-Hot Glue Sticks (4)-Rubber Stopper (1)-Eye Hooks (2)-Straws (4)-Rubberbands (2)-Paperclips (4)-Hanging Hooks (1)-Cardboard-LED light (one per team)
Subject(s)Science, Math, Language Arts, Social Studies
Educational StandardsSocial Studies: SS 7.C & G.1 Understand the development of government in modern societies and regions.SS 7.C.1 Understand how cultural values influence relationships between individuals, groups and political entities in modern societies and regions.Science: 7.P.2.3 Recognize that energy can be transferred from one system to another when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance (work) and electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass.7.P.2.4 Explain how simple machines such as inclined planes, pulleys, levers and wheel and axles are used to create mechanical advantage and increase efficiency.7.E.1.1 Compare the composition, properties and structure of Earth’s atmosphere to include: mixtures of gases and differences in temperature and pressure within layers.7.E.1.3 Explain the relationship between the movement of air masses, high and low pressure systems, and frontal boundaries to storms (including thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes) and other weather conditions that may result7.E.1.5 Explain the influence of convection, global winds and the jet stream on weather and climatic conditions.Math:7.EE.3 Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. For example: If a woman making $25 an hour gets a 10% raise, she will make an additional 1/10 of her salary an hour, or $2.50, for a new salary of $27.50. If you want to place a towel bar 9 3/4 inches long in the center of a door that is 27 1/2 inches wide, you will need to place the bar about 9 inches from each edge; this estimate can be used as a check on the exact computation7.G.1 Solve problems involving scale drawings of geometric figures, including computing actual lengths and areas from a scale drawing and reproducing a scale drawing at a different scale7.SP.1 Understand that statistics can be used to gain information about a population by examining a sample of the population; generalizations about a population from a sample are valid only if the sample is representative of that population. Understand that random sampling tends to produce representative samples and support valid inferences.Language Arts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.1Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.2Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.3Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.4Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.6Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.9Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history.CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.10By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Classifying ObjectiveCreating a functioning, electricity producing windmill.
Project Outline
AskHow can you work together with your team to design and engineer a functioning windmill that produces enough electricity to operate an LED light, while bolstering your project with an effective propaganda campaign, similar to the propaganda utilized in George Orwell’s Animal Farm?
ImagineImagine you and your teammates are animals on a farm similar to the one depicted in Animal Farm. You have decided to create a windmill from simple materials that will produce electricity. Each of you will take on specific roles, shouldering responsibility for individual aspects of the overall project. Imagine how some of the themes of Animal Farm might be incorporated into your overall design and your propaganda campaign to effectively accomplish the objectives of this project.
PlanUsing the materials provided for the construction of your windmill, plan and design a windmill that can feasibly be produced within the timeframe of the project. Remember, the windmill must produce enough electricity to power one LED diode. This must be accomplished strictly through the spinning of the windmill itself. Consider how each teammate will contribute to the overall goal of this project within the confines of their selected roles. How will you keep each other on track? How will you build consensus and agree up designs? Which students have strengths that align with specific aspects of the project’s goals and are how will you delegate work? How will you set benchmarks for the progress your team is making to ensure you do not fall behind?
CreateCreate a functioning windmill with your team that will successfully power and LED diode. Be sure to use a blueprint to develop a plan before putting your plan into action. Use your blueprint as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to change aspects of your design as you begin the engineering process. Remember, engineering is about failing, redesigning, and trying again. Experiment with multiple designs and ideas until your team settles on an effective approach for accomplishing the project goal.
ImproveOnce your windmill has been constructed, examine it for ways in which it can be improved. Can the foundation be strengthened? Can friction be reduced in the hub to allow the blades to spin more quickly, producing more electricity? Can artistic flare be added to enhance your windmill’s visual appeal. Utilize all remaining time in the project to improve and retool your windmill!
Closure / Student ReflectionsHow well did you and your teammates adhere to the roles you selected at the beginning of the project? What do you think you did well together as a team? Where did you find yourselves struggling as a team? What are you most proud of in the design of your windmill? What was the most challenging engineering aspect of your design process? Examining other teams’ windmills, what design approaches stand out to you as particularly creative or effective? If you had to start this project over, what would you and your team do differently?
Possible Modifications / ExtensionsThis project has multiple extensions that can be pursued in the core disciplines, a few of which are suggested below:Social Studies: Study the propaganda used in Animal Farm compared to the propaganda produced by the respective teams of students. Have students research historical propaganda campaigns by multiple governments and look for patterns, including emotional appeal, demonization, and group think. Math: Have students calculate the revolutions per minute of their windmill based upon multiple windspeeds and the diameter of their windmill. Science: Have students determine if wind energy is a competitive and effective energy source when compared to non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Is wind energy alone effective enough to allow society to transition to renewable energy sources? Are there portions of the country already pursuing this strategy?Language Arts: Have students analyze the language they used in their propaganda component of the project. Does it appeal to a specific audience? Can certain words be changed to make the message more direct and effective?