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Paleontological Research Institution


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Type

  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus




Build a Wind-Powered Elevator!

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  • This resource provides the directions for how to build a simple wind-powered elevator using basic materials such as a pencil, paper, cup, and string. 
  • As students build this wind-powered elevator, they are given a hands-on opportunity to learn how wind power works and why it is a valuable source of clean energy. 
Teaching Tips


  • This resource provides a brief introductory paragraph about the history of wind power and why avoiding fossil fuels benefits our planet. 
  • Many students will be able to complete this project individually or in a small group due to the clear directions and diagrams. 

Additional Prerequisites

  • This video provides a demonstration of the activity that can be used as an accompaniment to the PDF provided in this resource. 
  • This project requires materials that can be found in most classrooms but instead of using a plastic straw, try using a half-sheet of paper, rolled up and taped.
  • The materials list does not include shoe boxes but teachers may choose to forego this part of the project and use the "elevator" over the side of a desk or table. 


  • Teachers might provide these step-by-step directions to students who are strong readers and have them pair up with students of different abilities. 
  • For younger learners, teachers may choose to create a demonstration elevator for students to use as a reference. 
  • Ideas for implementing this activity include having students draw a diagram of the project, having a group discussion, assigning students roles for group work, and creating writing prompts that direct students to demonstrate their learning after project completion. 
  • Other StC resources on this topic include this wind energy and infrastructure interactive map, this TED video called "How I Harnessed the Wind", and this solar oven project. 
Scientist Notes
This resource accompanies a video resource and describes how to construct a wind-powered machine that converts wind power into a mechanical lift. This resource is recommended for teaching.
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