4th Grade Students Initiate Exciting STEM Global Partnership with Vortex Bladeless


For a following, Project-Based Learning (PBL) unit of study, student teams (of four) began extensive research with identifying a specific global problem to solve for as active participants in the 2016 DuPont Challenge.


Revisiting their learning about wind power, one team of students discovered how dangerous wind turbines are for wildlife since it is estimated that wind turbines are responsible for the deaths of 500,000 birds and bats each year. As a result of their findings, the students identified their PBL driving question:

Is it possible to harness the wind without hurting wildlife?

Slide 2 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

Slide 2 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

Next, students brainstormed some initial ideas on how to solve for this real world issue:

Slide 3 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

Slide 3 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

After brainstorming some possible solutions, students researched the feasibility and implications of the specific ideas they came up with. However, the team soon found out…

Slide 4 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

Slide 4 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

Instead of giving up on solving for this real world problem, the team of students persevered with researching other innovative ideas. Eventually, the team stumbled upon an isolated image of a bladeless wind turbine which piqued their interest. With no references available on this intriguing image, the students dug deeper to uncover more information on the device, its creator, how it functions, etc. until finally identifying Vortex Bladeless, located in Madrid, as the start-up company behind this innovative technology.

Through further investigation, the students were also able to track down the direct contact information for one of the Co-CEO’s of the company, David Suriol. The team eagerly emailed David with sharing their strong interest in learning more about the Vortex Bladeless System. David responded almost immediately – and a new and exciting global partnership was formed!

With so many questions to ask, an initial Skype session was soon scheduled. Prior to the Skype meeting, the team prepared their specific list of questions for learning more about how the Vortex Bladeless System works, how the idea first developed, etc. Throughout the exciting Skype session, the team learned a lot about the system, how it efficiently functions with also being safe for wildlife, and how it is currently in final testing stages inside of actual wind tunnels.

Slide 6 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

Slide 6 of final DuPont Challenge project submission

Video covering product conception and development:

In addition, the students also learned that a company goal is to break into the U.S. marketplace. Learning about this particular company goal, the team voiced their strong interest in bringing this innovative technology to the Allendale Columbia School campus. In order to take the first step toward achieving this goal, the team scheduled a time to present their idea at the next meeting of the school Building & Grounds Committee. In preparation for this meeting, the students created a new presentation specifically for the committee, and on February 26th, students pitched their idea on why AC should consider the installation of the Vortex Bladeless System on the school campus. The presentation was enthusiastically received by the committee with requesting the students to take the next step with scheduling and actually leading a second Skype session with David and the entire Building & Grounds Committee for the purpose of further investigating the students’ exciting proposal.

Gr4_Skype with CommitteeThe students worked on developing a specific set of questions that were submitted to Co-CEO, David Suriol, prior to the next Skype session. Questions included requests for information on product specifications, shipping, installation, maintenance, and so on. The global Skype meeting, held on March 18th, was very informative and engaging for everyone involved. Plans are now in place with continuing this real world, collaborative partnership with the Madrid-based company offering to provide a first generation, one-hundred watts, Bladeless Vortex Wind Turbine to be installed on the AC school campus.

Working alongside the Building & Grounds Committee, the student team will be involved in all phases of installation, maintenance, data acquisition, and reporting back to C0-CEO, David Suriol of Vortex Bladeless. Further development and implementation of this technology will continue to evolve throughout this exciting global partnership!


For the DuPont Challenge, students work in teams of four with choosing a specific global problem to solve for. The team topics chosen this year include:

(1) developing the best way to plant milkweed for yielding optimal results in an attempt to help the drastically dwindling population of monarch butterflies;

(2) devising alternative ways to grow food with the shrinking availability of land coupled with an increasing global population;

(3) innovating a way to make wind turbines safer for wildlife (since it is estimated that wind turbines are responsible for the death of 500,000 birds and bats each year); and,

(4) investigating the feasibility of Allendale Columbia School going solar to reduce its carbon footprint.

Visit our LS STEM Spotlight to view all the 4th grade DuPont Challenge final project submissions in their entirety – you will be impressed with the collaborative, real world learning our young S.T.E.M. students continue to enthusiastically demonstrate!

Gr4_DuPont Projects ALL 4

Last of all, let’s wish all our student teams the best of luck with their DuPont Challenge 2016 project submissions!