Central Oregon launches 'KidWind Challenge'

Funded with the help of Facebook, KidWind Challenge will encourage middle and high school students to design wind turbines for electricity generation.

Funded with the help of Facebook, KidWind Challenge will encourage middle and high school students to design wind turbines for electricity generation. 

A Crook County middle school teacher landed a $15,000 grant from Facebook to launch a competition to prompt students to design and build wind turbines.

The KidWind Challenge in Prineville will invite student teams to use their science, technology, engineering and math skills to come up with innovative wind turbine designs that will be tested and defended to a panel of judges made up of local energy industry professionals.

There's also momentum to expand the program across Oregon.

Bonneville Environmental Foundation has agreed to match any money that is raised and the additional funding will enable KidWind staff to hold teacher workshops across the state and Portland Public Schools and the Central Oregon High Desert Education Service District have expressed interest in holding workshops to launch the competition.

Women of Wind Energy has also offered volunteer support for the program.

The KidWind Challenge has been held on a state-by-state format for seven years, but 2013 will be the first year that all state champions will convene in Washington, D.C., to compete in a nationwide competition.

Facebook's Prineville Community Action Grants were awarded in January. It was the third round of grants awarded under a program set up when the social networking giant established a data center in central Oregon.

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