What can windmills be used for?
Windmills are a very practical energy tool that has been used for centuries by humans to do difficult jobs. They are based on a very basic science principle that transfers wind energy to mechanical energy, and in some cases which then transfers mechanical energy into electrical energy. When you are working on a science fair project you can use the wisdom of the ancients to produce a project that deals with modern problems and needs.
Water Pump Windmill
One of the most popular traditional uses of a windmill is as a water pump. In this scenario the wind turns the blades on the windmill which them moves a pump handle that creates suction up a pipe which is grounded in a well of water. The suction draws the water up through the pipe and deposits it into a barrel or trough. Today water pump windmills are less common, but during the 19th and 20th centuries they were extensively used in the rural areas of the United States.
The aesthetical appeal of windmills has made them not only a functional object, but also a decorative one. While in the past windmills have been used to do work, today many are designed to function merely as a decorative lawn ornament. Some of these ornaments are battery operated and used as the pumping force for a water feature.
The mechanical energy produced by a windmill can also be used to power mills. Here the blades turn from the force of the wind. The blades’ movement then turns interior wheels and cogs which operate the saws or grinding stones. Millwork windmills were very popular in Holland, and these windmills played such an important role in this country’s history that they came to be an internationally recognizable symbol of Holland.
While most windmills that were used for work have been replaced by modern technology, windmills have in recent years been developed to harness the power of the wind to produce electricity. Windmill generators work by turning wind energy into mechanical energy, which then is used to turn a turbine which produces electricity. Wind energy has been identified as one possible energy source to replace fossil fuels.
Windmill Science Fair Projects
Windmill science fair projects are a great option for students interested in energy or the environment. These projects deal with science concepts from geology to physics. They are a great learning opportunity and generally a lot of fun to work on.