Sidney Keleher (left) and Danika Levasseur with their award and wind-turbine design at the Maine state KidWind Challenge on March 23. Courtesy of Sandy Bickford

After proving their hand-crafted, small-scale wind turbine could generate the most power at the state KidWind Challenge in March, two Mt. Ararat middle schoolers have advanced to the next stage, representing Maine at the national competition in Colorado later this month.

Sidney Keleher and Danika Levasseur bested 20 other Maine middle school teams with the strongest — and perhaps the prettiest — wind turbine.

“What makes their turbine special is that it looks like a flower, and they designed and built it by hand,” said teacher adviser Sandy Bickford. “They used the drill press, band saw, hand drills, squares and other hand tools to create their turbine; there was a lot of testing and modifying for this project.”

Keleher said she is excited to compete in Colorado.

“Competing at nationals is definitely going to be a new experience for me,” she said. “Competing means seeing other people’s hard work and ideas and also showing off me and Danika’s. I think our turbine is special because of our pulley system. We added two pulleys in hopes of creating more energy.”

Keleher said she took an interest in the wind-engineering course at school because it looked like fun and she wanted to help promote clean energy.

“I hope our world keeps advancing with this technology so I can have a cleaner future,” she said.

The KidWind Challenge was established 15 years ago to teach students across the globe about renewable energy, according to its website. In addition to wind energy, this year, the program has added a solar competition where students must build solar-powered objects.

With the help of Bickford, both Keleher and Levasseur have spent the past month raising funds for their trip to Colorado. They have exceeded their fundraising goal of $5,000 and are ready to hit the road.

Levasseur, left, and Keleher testing their wind turbine in a wind tunnel at states. Courtesy of Sandy Bickford

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