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Paleontological Research Institution


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


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.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.3 Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks; analyze the specific results based on explanations in the text.
    • Speaking & Listening (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.1.2 Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.7 Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3-5-ETS1-1 Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
    • PS3: Energy
      • HS-PS3-3 Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
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