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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wind Power, written by Clive Dobson. Firefly Books, 2010. $12.95 ages 12 and up

"The body shapes of sailboat
hulls, ships, canoes and
submarines mimic the shapes
of fish, porpoises and whales.
Rudders, keels and paddles
function much like fins, tails
and flukes because the
streamlined shapes allow
them to work efficiently in
fluid water by minimizing
turbulence and resistance,
or drag."

First we must understand why wind  moves across the surface of the earth. This informed author even helps me to recognize this. He then moves on to explain how a wind vane helps us determine the direction of the wind and how we measure wind force and speed, using the Beauport Scale. With me so far??? Dobson provides a detailed and attention-grabbing short history of wind power. The illustrations that accompany this section are very helpful.

While the turbines that are in use today are becoming more popular and visible, they differ from the earliest windmills which were made of wood or animal hides. Wind power was used in areas where there was no available water to operate a water mill. As the designs changed varied mills were in use. All this design work led to the development of the three blade turbines that we are used to seeing today. 

Before telling his audience about the 20 designs and needed materials, he provides the scientific data needed to understand harnessing the power of the wind and discusses both vertical and horizontal axis turbines and their most obvious differences. It is the reason that he researched and wrote this book...'to help further an interest in the development of small wind devices' that might be used in homes. 

He then proceeds to give directions for building thirteen horizontal and seven vertical axis turbines that will produce wind power. There are even directions for three other windmills that help readers understand the difficulties faced by design engineers. The directions are clear, the illustrations most helpful and interested young scientists will be thrilled with the opportunity to create something that may impact a move toward a more sustainable lifestyle. He follows it all up with a glossary to help with unfamiliar terms, a list of resources for further learning and an index.

Now, go give it a try!

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