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ULM hosts Louisiana’s inaugural KidWind Challenge

Published February 21, 2024


MONROE, LA On Friday, February 2, 2024, ULM hosted the KidWind Challenge, a renewable, wind energy learning experience sponsored by Pattern Energy Group and held at Bayou Pointe Event Center.  Over 75 students from Cedar Creek, Neville, and Sterlington middle schools attended to participate in activities that impart knowledge and hands-on exposure to the science behind renewable energy, specifically wind power.  

This STEM competition, the first of its kind to be held in Louisiana, featured student teams vying for prizes, including invitations to the KidWind Challenge World Competition in Minneapolis, MN, in May, with a $1,000 travel stipend included for the top three teams.  

The KidWind Challenge is a firsthand design celebration that engages students through the lens of wind and solar energy. Student teams design, construct, and test small-scale wind turbines and solar structures.  For the last twenty years, KidWind has focused on helping educators and students explore renewable energy through three major areas: teacher training, curricula and materials, and the KidWind Challenge.   

ULM partnered with the STEM Collective for Innovative Louisiana Stakeholders (SCILS) Region 8 LASTEM Center to bring this dynamic learning activity to campus.  Dr. Anne Case Hanks, Director of the ULM School of Sciences, explained, KidWind Challenge brings science and engineering to life and requires students to use engineering design. Opportunities like this help to excite students in STEM. This innovative event would not be possible without Pattern Energy and the SCILS partnership with Louisiana Tech.” 

Cathi Cox-Boniol, Director of SCILS Region 8 LASTEM Center, elaborated on efforts to begin this event. “When SCILS connected with KidWind last year, we immediately knew this was a partnership we wanted to pursue,” said Cox-Boniol.  “However, we also knew that in order for it to be successful, a strong collaborative effort was required.  The powerful partnership between SCILS, KidWind, ULM, & Pattern Energy proved to be the perfect combination for launching the inaugural KidWind Challenge in Louisiana.  I am proud and grateful for how each partner invested in our debut event.  This is the type of partnership SCILS is built upon, and it is exciting to think about what might be accomplished as we continue leveraging our collective strengths,” she added. 

ULM Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Arant, summed up the ways in which such local events can impact our region.  “ULM exists to serve its community through connecting knowledge with challenges and opportunities.  The sooner we can open doors for students to realize possibilities and potentials, the quicker lives can be changed.  Working with younger students to address societal concerns gets them engaged sooner in the solution, leading to a lifetime of learning and connection with their communities,” said Arant.