One-Minute Essays
Windmills on a Caribbean Island Lesson Plan included Original Document included Arts & Humanities Science/Technology Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening
Nevis NASA There is nothing like an island to provide a concise case study, in this case of geography, technology, and the environment. The Island of Nevis in the Caribbean is a wonderful laboratory to understand how windmills were sited. Sighted by Columbus in 1493, the island was exploited for its sugar-growing capacity by the English beginning in the early 17th century. Today, Nevis has some of the world's highest literacy rates, thrives on sugar and tourism, and has a population predominantly of African descent. Being a small volcanic island (36 sq. miles) with limited waterpower opportunities, wind power was a natural choice from the outset. But where to put the mills?
Windmills are located where prevailing winds are reliable and not readily blocked by vegetation or terrain. The maps below will allow students to consider the island of Nevis and why its mills are where they are. Students can be asked a number of questions [with general answers in brackets].
Below are early maps of early colonial cities. The larger versions are available in two forms, plain or with the mills highlighted.
The island of Nevis in the Caribbean

The location of windmills on Nevis

The contour elevations of Nevis

The prevailing winds on Nevis

The road network on Nevis

Discussion Questions
  1. Why are there no mills on the northern part of the island? [wind blocked]
  2. Why are there no mills in the very center of the island? [volcanic peak; great for wind but difficult access]
  3. Why are there no mills just south or just east of Charlestown? [wind blocked by shoulder of mountain]
  4. Why is there a concentration of mills in the centre-south of the island? [on mountain shoulder for wind and still relatively close to population center of Charlestown]
  5. Why do the roads hug the coastlines except in the south where they are more in the middle?
  6. Study the location of Nevis in the Caribbean. What are the advantages and disadvantages of its location?