Allen students create partnership with U of M Engineering students to build working wind turbine

Six years ago fifth grade teacher, Cindy Johengen, dreamed of building a wind turbine with her class after learning of a Malawian teen who built a windmill for his African Village. Her vision was realized when she connected with the U of M Engineering Department and a special group of students from Woven Wind, part of the college’s Multidisciplinary Program.


Mrs. Johengen and her students integrated concepts about the turbine with writing, science, math, reading and art throughout the year. The U of M students came to the classroom to enhance the students’ learning with hands-on activities demonstrating the engineering concepts of the turbine.

Model turbine kits were built to understand the construction. Students then wrote directions how to build the model turbine before making detailed drawings.  “This project is the culmination of Ms J’s dream and the desire to learn, teach, and grow with the U of M engineering Woven Wind partnership!” said Allen principal Joan Fitzgibbon.


Mrs. Johengen joined the engineering students while they were building the actual turbine at U of M’s Wilson Center on weekends and evenings.  The students are a self-lead team that taught themselves the technical skills needed to design and construct the turbine.  All of their time on the project was in addition to their regular class requirements. As the project progressed, they brought the actual parts into the classroom, and the fifth graders put the turbine together.


The students analyzed their drawings and final products with art teacher Mrs. Campbell.


At the end of the project, Mrs. Johengen’s students taught each class at Allen about the turbine and helped the U of M students demonstrate the working turbine outside.

Mrs. Coco’s second grade class watches the turbine generate electricity.



The Woven Wind Turbine at Allen and the Allen Students and U of M Students who made it all possible!


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1 Comment

  1. LOVE the U of M/public school connection as well as that this is making science/energy exciting for the elementary kids!!! Young people sharing with younger people. LOVE IT!

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