MN Renewable Energy Challenge (4-12 grade)

What is MN Renewable Engergy Challenge?

The MN Renewable Energy Challenge (REC) encourages students to explore the exciting world of  wind and solar power. REC Teams design and build small wind turbines with the goal of creating something both efficient and elegant. The season culminates with a Challenge Day where teams bring their wind turbine to be scored on energy output in a 48" x 48" wind tunnel. Teams are also judged on their turbine design, participate in an industry knowledge component and same day solar challenge.

Check out this short video!

Challenge Day

Each year the details of the Industry Knowledge Component change. Teams will typically meet once or twice per week for 6-8 weeks. Awards for all categories are given.

  • Wind Turbine Energy Output
    Wind turbines will be tested in a 48" x 48" wind tunnel at a wind speed of approximately 5 m/s. Please note: wind moving at 5 m/s within a space this large is surprisingly powerful, much faster than a single box fan! Test your device for high winds or come to our team tunnel practice day to be prepared. Prior to performance testing, student teams will be given a reasonable amount of time to test their devices.Two attempts per team are provided. Sand bags will be available to hold your turbine in place, your turbine must be free standing and shrouds are not allowed.
  • Wind Turbine Design and Documentation
    A panel of judges will meet with your team, examine your design and ask questions about your building and engineering process. Be prepared to share your team's story on what you built! How were you creative, what is the construction quality? How did you maximize power output, what type of materials were utilized, how much did they cost? To aid in the judging process your team should prepare research documentation that reflects the design and engineering process. You can create a poster, make a short video, create an engineer's notebook or write a short report. Make it fun!
  • Industry Knowledge - Siting Challenge
    Teams are given background information about a ficticious city wishing to invest in wind energy prior to Challenge Day. The team is tasked with deciding where to position the wind turbines so that they generate the maximum amount of energy while minimizing the impact to the city and environment.  Teams will discuss with judges their resoning behind the turbine placement. 
  • Other Challenges 
    There will be a same day challenge for teams who wish to participate. Each year these challenges differ. In previous years we have done solar challenges (boats, cars, house, fountains). We hadve also done a weightlifter challenge in which teams build a second turbine to lift metal washers.

What makes up a team?

REC teams come in all shapes and sizes.  They form with school or homeschool groups, neighborhood friends, scout troops, community education, 4-H, etc. Teams have 3-10 participants from grades 4-12th. Teams can be a mix of grades & ages. In Minnesota we have two judging groups: 

  • Rookie Teams (1st year)
  • Returning Teams

What are the costs?

The cost for a NEW team is approximately

  • $100 MN Team Registation Fee (include all workshops & wind tunnel testing)
  • $12 KidWind Basic Turbine Building Parts



Teams may register with High Tech Kids. High Tech Kids accepts VISA, MasterCard, Discover and E-check (ACH) payment 

Questions? Please contact us!

High Tech Kids: The Minnesota nonprofit that coordinates team registration, resources, volunteer recruitment and administers the challenge. Established since 1999 we have served more than 22,000 students.
Cheryl Moeller: Executive Director, ,612.781.2203  
Vicki Coaty:  Programs Manager,,  612.781.2203     

KidWind Project: St. Paul based company provides building and training materials for coaches as well as teacher curriculum, products and teacher training.               
Michael Arquin:  Director,, 877-917-0079