Smithfield students take international KidWind honors

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Students from Smithfield High School and Smithfield Middle School took home top honors from the World KidWind Challenge, held May 5-8 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Shelby Huffaker and Jacob Miller, both 2024 Smithfield High graduates, and rising seniors Katie Gallahorn and Seneca Register, won best overall “Wind Champion” as team Goon Squad at the international competition after placing second in the state competition at the high school level in April.

Huffaker, who’s headed to Old Dominion University this fall as an engineering major, said her team 3D-printed the turbine’s blades and used motors from old printers for generators.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We only used recycled materials,” Huffaker said.

This year’s international competition, which drew 95 student teams from 21 states, Taiwan and Mexico, included testing the turbine’s electricity-generating output at four different wind speeds, a presentation to a panel of renewable energy industry judges, a data analysis challenge and a turbine siting challenge and renewable energy quiz. According to its website, the KidWind challenge has been implemented in 30 states with roughly 40,000 students competing in 300 events nationwide since 2009.

All four Goon Squad members were Engineering III or IV students in Heather Greer’s classes. Greer serves as one of two KidWind coaches for SHS alongside manufacturing teacher Adam Shipman.

“We started building the turbine in January of this year,” Huffaker said. “We were not able to finish the project during school hours so the team would come to the school on a couple of Saturdays and spend the day there.”

Huffaker, earlier this year, took a bus tour of the Portsmouth Marine Terminal where 176 wind turbines will be built 27 miles off the coast.

“I hope to be involved with designing and constructing offshore wind turbines,” Huffaker said.

Smithfield Middle students Kollin Hicks, Brennen Thompson, Ethan Whitlow, Logan Greer and Logan Taylor – all members of the “Wizards of Wind” team – took home one of two judge’s awards at the Minneapolis competition. The team, coached by Danielle Joyner, previously placed second in the state KidWind competition.

Another team from Smithfield High – the Hungry Chickens – placed third nationwide at the National Invention Convention in Dearborn, Michigan, held June 5-7. The team of 2024 graduates Peyton Bosmans and Jaxx Leibhart constructed a solar-powered, Amazon Alexa-enabled small animal feeder controllable from a smartphone. The Hungry Chickens previously placed in the Invent Virginia/Invention D.C. competition for inventions by students in grades 2-12.