Today’s “bonus post” was prompted by a walk. Strolling through my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan these days is more interesting than usual. Attached to a number of the lampposts downtown are WhirlyDoodles, wonderful lighted sculptures that combine art and science into whirling wind-powered light pinwheels. They’ve been covered on Detroit television and are bringing a lot of smiles to downtown.

But the Whirlydoodles are part of something bigger: The Whirlydoodle Project. The larger Whirlydoodles are really spectacular, but they also have an important purpose. Inventor Timothy Jones describes the project as follows:

It’s an idea for using Whirlydoodles to increase awareness and acceptance of wind energy by creating a public art installation that is beautiful and inspiring. I believe Whirlydoodles, which are wind-responsive, can help people to visualize the link between wind and energy and to perceive natural rhythms in the environment

He would love to see Whirlydoodles across a landscape, harnessing the wind to create a moving field. Can’t you just picture it?

Aside from being delightful in their own right, Whirlydoodles seem the perfect inspiration for helping students link science and art. Think about how students could be challenged to create art powered by renewable energy—wind powered sculptures, solar-lighted installations, or who knows what else. If you try it, send photos! I’ll be delighted to post them here.

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