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Hampton Roads students channel their energy into sustainable energy in wind, solar competition

wind competition at ODU.jpg
Posted at 1:23 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 18:22:56-04

NORFOLK, Va. – Students from across Hampton Roads and North Carolina competed in a competition Friday, centered around renewable energy.

It’s called the KidWind Challenge, and it’s hosted by James Madison University in conjunction with Old Dominion University, where the event was held.

High schoolers from across the region have spent time designing and building small-scale wind turbines and solar projects. They bring those devices to the competition, and those projects are put to the test and judged by industry experts from companies like AES and Dominion Energy.

"Climate change is a huge issue, and with climate change, I feel like our young generation is put on the spot: this is your problem to solve," said Remy Pangle, who works with the Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Energy at JMU. "And climate anxiety is a real thing in these guys and being able to give them a solution to focus on and tools to move toward a cleaner, brighter future, I think is really important to overcoming climate change and also to just ensure that we have a sustainable future in Virginia. And the job opportunities in this area are huge!"

The competition is open to students in 4th through 12th grade, though Friday, organizers say, it was all high school students. The top three teams in both solar and wind will move on to the state competition to be held in April at Virginia State University.

Aiden Henry, a student at Smithfield High School, said he is interested in going to trade school, possibly to become an electrician. He and his partner dressed in Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses to present their solar-powered refrigerator/cooler to the judges.

“Virginia is very hot and very humid, so why not have a cooler that doesn’t melt and have ice in it?” asked Henry.

The KidWind Challenge is held annually. Local environmental experts tell News 3 they hope to get even more students involved next year.

For more information on the challenge, click here.

Related: Chesapeake high school students named national finalists, win $50K in contest for using STEM skills to improve bus transportation routes