Farnsworth students off to Houston for engineering comp

The Farnsworth 5-8 Campus wind team has been invited to its fourth national competition due to team members’ strong engineering skills. The students will be heading off to Houston May 21-23 for the national KidWind competition. (courtesy of David Barrett)

The KidWind competition challenges students to create wind turbines with high electrical outputs. The team that produces the most electricity wins. (Marjorie Otto/Review)

Trip marks team’s 4th invite


It’s a habit they can’t break — the Farnsworth 5-8 Campus wind team has once again been invited to the KidWind national competition, held this year down in Houston, Texas. 

This is the fourth year the 10-student team’s hard work has been recognized with an invitation to the national competition. In the past the students have been able to go to New Orleans and Anaheim to compete against kids from across the country

KidWind is a competition in which students engineer wind turbines, with their success depending on the amount of electricity their turbine creates. 

The students’ path to Houston began at a regional competition at Metropolitan State University on April 13, which incorporated wind as well as solar energy. They not only created an efficient wind turbine, but also a model house that had small working appliances powered by solar panels on the home’s roof. 

One student connected a computer to the home so they could switch the electricity between rooms. 

The students’ teacher and mentor, David Barrett, said judges were really “blown away” by the creativity of the solar-powered model home.

The national competition is all about wind turbines, so for the next few weeks ahead of the May 21-23 competition in Houston, the students will work on refining the design of their turbine blades, increasing their size and tweaking their shape. 

Barrett said one thing that helps the students be so successful is the community support around Farnsworth, which is an aerospace and engineering magnet school.

“We have a village of engineers that come in to support the kids’ learning,” Barrett said, adding that they’re always looking for more local engineers to come in and volunteer their time.

“I run around like crazy trying to meet their needs, and it’s inefficient, so I require that support,” Barrett said. “In education we need people from industries, who want qualified workers, to come give a little bit of time to those kids, to give them more rigor that a regular classroom teacher doesn’t have the energy, time or skill to do.”

The students will also work on fundraising over the next few weeks by bagging groceries, washing cars and accepting donations to help pay for the trip.

On May 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the students will be bagging groceries at Cub Foods in Phalen Village; on May 11 from noon to 4 p.m. they’ll have a car wash set up at the Culver’s in Sunray; and on May 13,  5 to 7 p.m., 10% of the sales at Culver’s in Sunray will go directly to the team.

Funds can also be donated to the team through www.givemn.org, or by sending them directly to Barrett, who can be contacted at david.barrett@spps.org. Those interested in volunteering should also reach out to Barrett.


–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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