STEM Cumbria - Vattenfall Wind Challenge Day
Forum 28. Barrow In Furness 3/10/2012
The day began around 08:45. I arrived at the Forum 28 feeling a little apprehensive about what the day would entail, and nervous as this was my first event. On arriving I met the other STEM ambassadors, two from Sellafield and one from BAE systems and also the three engineers representing the Vattenfall Company. All were lovely and after a coffee and meet and greet we were briefed about the days events by Owen, Brian and Anne who were running the event.
This was an insight into the challenges that the students would be taking part in throughout the day and made me feel more at ease as to what their expectations were of us as an Ambassador.
At around 9.15 all the school children started to arrive and they were instructed to join a group. There were five schools from around the area participating, all with ten students from each. These were then split into teams of five, one student from each of the schools, and an ambassador was designated a group. In my group I had Emily, Molly, Josh, Aaron and Conner.
Once everyone was settled the day began with a presentation and introduction to wind farm technology by Anne from Vatternfall. This was then followed by the first activity of naming parts within the wind turbine itself. This was a good ice breaker for the group as they were all shy and it gave them chance to interact.
After getting the information on the correct answers and a short mid morning break, Owen gave further information on wind technology and continued into the second activity. This activity involved planning using various maps, where to locate a new wind farm. The considerations that the students had to take into account were depth of water, as this would determine the particular turbine installed, wind speed, as this would determine a capacity factor to for average costs, location within the sea, taking into account any current infrastructure, shipping routes, cables and rigs etc and also which power station the generated energy would feed back to. Once this was all plotted they then had to work out the installation costs, running costs, yearly income and then work out the total over twenty years. This was done three times and the farm with the highest profit was then plotted onto a larger scale map to compare later with the rest of the teams.
This was a great insight into how well the children again interacted with each, and how each were willing to take on a designated role to help the task go smoothly.
After lunch the final activity was to use material to design and build a device which could install the cable that linked all the turbines. Again Owen briefed the students and gave them the factors to consider before handing this over to the teams.
My team came up with a device which used a ploughing mechanism to lay the cable into the sand bed and to then use a hydraulic spring action to take the cable from the seabed into the J-bend pipes to feed back up and down again to the turbines so all could be connected.
This was my first event and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing how the young students worked together to complete the activities they were doing, and seeing how well they understood each of the challenges.
I also liked that at the end of the event our individual feedback was asked and we were asked to choose one student from each of the groups, this was then discussed further and five students one from each school was awarded star student. I was very happy to see that one Aaron from my team was one of the ones who will be receiving this award and he very much deserved it.
I am looking forward to future events and hope to participate in as many as possible.
Jenna Storey BT