SOUTH WEBER -- The students at South Weber Elementary School have some new additions to their classroom. However, this part of the classroom is outside in the wind.
The school recently installed a pair of eddy GT vertical axis wind turbines from Urban Green Energy, with one in front of each of the school's buildings.
"The funny thing is, we've probably had some of the least windy days here since they've gone up," said Principal Marilyn Hales.
The purpose is to study the wind from day to day and season to season, so the students can track trends of the weather in a new, high-tech way. Right now, that data can been seen in the lobbies of the two buildings. But soon, computers in each classroom will track the wind outside.
The turbines were part of the original architectural plan of the school, Hales said, when the first phase was built in 2008.
Urban Green Energy CEO Nick Blitterswyk said the new models just became available in September, and schools have become interested in using them to help the students learn about the science.
"We're excited when any of our customers put up a turbine, but with a school you have that community aspect, and a lot of people find out about it and are proud of it," Blitterswyk said.
Urban Green Energy said each wind turbine produces one kilowatt of energy at a wind speed rated about 12 meters per second, which could help the school save money on its power bill. But as of now, the turbines are not hooked into the school's power grid.
"From what I have understood, I believe these could be hooked into the grid, but I think mainly they're used for teaching tools," Hales said. "I wouldn't want people to think that we're going to be able to power the two schools with the wind turbine, because that's not the case."
But Blitterswyk said it was his understanding that the turbines would be hooked into the power grid in the future. According to UGE, this type of turbine was designated to power an average American home when the average wind speed is just more than 10 mph.
At first, the possibility of noise and vibration from the turbines had Hales a bit worried. She soon found out that was something she didn't need to be concerned about.
"These kinds are very quiet as they go around, and it's kind of a welcoming thing for the kids and a great way for kids to learn about renewable energy," Hales said. "They're kind of decorative too."
The new kind of turbine, with a vertical axis rather than a horizontal axis, is not as dangerous-looking as others. That's good, because the students will be walking by them as they enter the buildings.
"It looks that way, and it acts that way," said Blitterswyk, noting that the new turbines produce energy from a lower start-up speed.
These turbines, which produce a noise at a lower decibel level than a refrigerator's hum, will not pivot with the wind. So whichever way the wind blows, it will be recorded, which Blitterswyk says is ideal, as they are closer to the ground than other turbines.
The turbines are more interesting for the students than the former instrument used to track the wind.
"It was a little more boring than the wind turbines, because it was a little anemometer on the top of a long pole," Hales said.
The addition is also a sign that the school is preparing its students for the future.
"These are the tools that they'll need to propel them into the next 50 years," Hales said. "These will be the things that they will be working with."