A Whirlwind of Opportunity

Three Boy Scouts go to a national competition with their own wind energy system.

One spring 2014 announcement turned into a whirlwind of opportunity for current sixth graders Victor Yang, Ayden Tiede and Aidan Barker. The boys, friends since kindergarten and all active in Boy Scout Troop 409 in Excelsior, embarked on a journey to build a wind energy system.

After getting the boys involved with First Lego League, Ning Li, Victor’s mother, discovered the KidWind Challenge, a competition that engages students in research about clean energy. Li asked if the boys would like to try it, and received a resounding “yes.”

Thus began months of two-hour weekly meetings building their wind energy system. The boys took their finished product to the Regional KidWind Challenge competition in March and placed first in their division, sending them to the nationals in Washington, D.C., in April, where they placed ninth.

While winning has been exciting, the mothers see this as a great learning opportunity for their sons. “[It has been fun] watching the boys interact, question each other, come out and say, ‘That’s a dumb idea because of this,’ and then figure out a better way to do it,” says Susanne Aspley, Ayden’s mother.