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Heartland Community College

Kids learn to harness wind power at Challenger Learning Center

February 12, 2024

The Challenger Learning Center at Heartland Community College will host a competition for local middle school students to test their science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) skills. 

Over 60 area students aged 10-14 will gather at Heartland’s Challenger Learning Center (CLC) on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 to design and build a model wind turbine for the first Central Illinois KidWind Renewable Energy Challenge. 

Staff and students from Heartland Community College Renewable Energy program will be on hand to lend advice to teams as they create their model. 

Teams will test their model in a wind tunnel set up in the Astroth Community Education Center on the Heartland Campus. 

Professionals from the renewable energy industry will serve as judges, evaluate each team’s work, and pick winners to invite to the National KidWind Challenge held this summer.  

After testing, teams will be the some of the first to visit the Heartland’s new Advanced Manufacturing Center which houses renewable energy technology courses. 

“This is a unique opportunity for kids to develop STEM skills while gaining the benefit of the renewable energy educators and students at Heartland,” said Bob Shaw, Interim Director of Heartland’s Challenger Learning Center. “Thousands of students participate in immersive educational experiences each year at the Challenger Learning Center. Events like the KidWind Challenge help make the connection between STEM learning and careers in industries like wind energy, electric vehicles, solar energy, and many others.”

Schools with students participating in the Central Illinois KidWind Challenger are Bement Middle School (Piatt County) Glendale Elementary (East Peoria), Lincoln Elementary (Lincoln), Metcalf (Normal) as well as home school students from Normal. 

The mission of the Challenger Learning Center is to engage secondary school students and teachers in dynamic, hands-on exploration and discovery opportunities that strengthen knowledge in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), inspire students to pursue careers in these fields, and provide an outlet to learn and apply important life skills. Students from across the Midwest have participated in over 315 STEM experiences and 7,292 students completed a STEM experience last year.

Written by: Steve Fast