Together, the 7,500 windmills at Altamont Pass generate approximately 750 megawatts, compared with the 429 megawatts generated by San Francisco's three fossil fuel thermal plants at Hunter's Point. (A megawatt is a million joules of power per second.)

Currently, electricity generated from conventional fossil fuels costs utilities an average of 4 to 5 cents per kilowatt-hour. (Kilowatt-hours is how electricity use is usually measured.) The cost of wind power is 5 to 7 cents per kilowatt-hour- reasonably close to what we're used to paying- which makes this energy source feasible to use. The cost of wind power comes from windmill production and maintenance only. The wind is free.

As you can see, Wind Farms present many interesting starting points for exploration. One goal of the Science Learning Network is to provide you with background information, classroom activities, and contact to other teachers exploring similar ideas in their classrooms. Lets take a quick tour of the rest of the SLN to see what related materials are available-

For starters, the SLN features a collection of Inquiry Resources which you can also access directly from the home page. The resources vary in style and design and represent the rich diversity of the collaborating museums. Some resources which may be of interest to an individual or group exploring Wind Farms include Wind: Our Fierce Friend, Hurricane: Storm Science, and the Thinking Fountain. Wind: Our Fierce Friend provides step-by-step inquiry-science classroom activities, an video gallery of student-designed windmills at work, interesting prose for further reading, and links to student's wind inspired poems and stories. Here's a sampling of some wind inspired poetry:

By Jason Leetham

As I sit outside and write I see the weather station blowing. I feel my hair blowing in the wind. I see the grass swaying around. I hear kids running around the playground. My paper blows in the wind. I also see the trees swaying through the air. I hear a car and a train in the background by the mountains.


by Chelsie

The wind is moving slowly.
I am calm and relaxed.
The air is warm, cold, and hot, and it smells like hair spray.
The grass is moving slowly. Bushes and trees too.
The dirt is wet and now is mud.
Cars are passing by, their horns are honking too.
Wherever I look something is moving
and all the time I am smelling
something good or bad.

More student prose is available online at the Millville School, Millville Utah.

Within Hurricane: Storm Science you'll find pages designed for younger children including an informative section about the interaction of wind, water, and heat, as well as information about understanding radar images of hurricanes..

The Thinking Fountain is another resource you might turn to as part of exploring wind, and many other subjects as well. It is a vast collection of activities, facts, images, and most importantly, the associative links between them that are both fun and informative to follow. Start with here and see where your mind wanders

©1996 Science Learning Network