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Teacher grants help make national winners

February 26, 2020
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Just over three years ago, Boardman Glenwood Junior High School (BGJHS) science teachers

Tim Harker and Eric Diefenderfer applied for and received a Boardman Schools Fund for Educational Excellence (BSFEE) mini teacher grant to be able to purchase the materials and equipment needed to build and study wind turbines.

For the past three years, the BGJHS students built the turbines and competed on line with other schools across the nation in the KidWind wind turbine competition. In spite of all the research and hard work, the Boardman teams were coming up short.

Article Photos

Dressed in their KidWind shirts and holding their $25 checks from the challenge are BGJHS students R.J. Keating and Johnny Austin.

"After three years in competition, we just couldn't be competitive," said Diefenderfer. "I asked one of the advisors at the KidWind competitions what we were doing wrong and he advised it was all in the gears."

This year, Diefenderfer and Harker were able to get a second teacher mini-grant for $968.31, which helped purchase the better gearing and measuring items. The money was used for upgraded gear systems and to obtain digital voltmeters to help record data. The new voltmeters connect to a chrome book, making it easier to record and keep the data.

"We had enough from the grant to provide the new gears for seven turbines," Diefenderfer said.

Just the change to the improved gearing made for a ten percent voltage increase on average, which put the Team Spartan turbine in the running. Not only did the team do better, they went on to win the national competition in January. As winners, they received KidWind T-shirts and a check for $50 to be divided by team members R.J. Keating and Johnny Austin. The prizes were issued to the two students on Friday (Feb. 21).

There is still a chance for more BGJHS students to win nationally as the competition takes place monthly. Diefenderfer said there will be a big wind turbine competition at Akron University this coming May. As of right now, BGJHS will have ten teams of two making the trip. He said all of this has been possible because of the BSFEE grants that provide for items like the wind turbine kits that the normal school budget would not cover.

Diefenderfer sent emails to the BSFEE Board members to thank them for making it possible for the Boardman students to take part in the challenge and learn about alternative power sources.

In a reply to that email, BSFEE Board member Edie Davidson said, "That's fantastic! Congratulations to you and your students! So glad that BSFEE was able to help out with that!"

For more on the competition and to see the Spartans entry, visit



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