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Grade: 4

Subject: Science

Learning Objectives (4-ESS3-1)

Students will be able to create windmills that move when powered by the wind. Students will be able to work in groups to create a product, analyzing and redesigning their product as necessary.


(3 minutes)


  • Tell your class that today everyone will be creating windmills.

  • Ask for volunteers to tell you what a windmill is. After some discussion, define a windmill as a machine with sails that is powered by the wind. Explain that windmills have been used to grind food, and in modern times, create energy.

  • Tell your students that they'll be working in groups to complete today's activity.

  • Give a Wacky Windmill Challenge packet to each student.

  • Instruct your students to review the constraints of today's challenge.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher modeling

(5 minutes)

  • Read the problem statement from the challenge packet aloud to your students.

  • Model the process of coming up with questions that are prompted by the problem statement. Vocalize this process so that students understand what they should do. For example, say: What exactly makes one windmill produce more energy than another? How can we measure how much energy a windmill produces? etc.

  • Record each question that you generate on the board.

Guided Practice

(5 minutes)

  • Tell each student to find a partner. In groups of two, they should discuss questions that they have about the problem statement.

  • Ask your class to share some of the questions they generated with their partners. As each students announces a question, write it on the board.


Independent working time

(25 minutes)

  • Instruct your students to look at the individual design page in their packets, and sketch out a windmill design there. Give them two to three minutes to complete their sketches.

  • Arrange your class into small groups of 3 or 4.

  • Encourage your students to take five minutes and discuss a plan for their group windmill prototype. They should draw inspiration from one or more individual designs.

  • Give each group 20 minutes to create their windmills, based on their prototypes. Once they've finished, groups should use an electric fan to test their windmills.




  • Tell students who need an extra challenge to create a freestanding windmill.


  • Show students who are struggling a video and/or different pictures of windmills. This will give them the background knowledge they need to better understand how windmills work.


(5 minutes)

Assess each student on the following elements of this activity:

  • Construction of the windmill

  • Success of the windmill construction

  • Original design

  • Redesign

  • Group work

  • Group discussion

  • Reflection in the packet

Review and closing

(7 minutes)

  • Ask your students to reflect with their group on the following questions: Were you successful in this challenge? Why or why not? What was the most difficult part of this challenge? Why? If you were to do this again, what would you change?

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