Make Your Own Water Wheel

Abi will show you how to make a model water wheel as you investigate how to change the movement energy in flowing water to something more useful.

To make your own water wheel you will need: a large bowl, 2 x paper plates, some cardboard, 6 x plastic bottle caps, 2 x plastic rulers, a wooden skewer, plasticine or re-useable tack, a jug of water, duct tape or Sellotape, strong glue, and adult permission and supervision.

Hydroelectric power is a renewable source of energy and uses large bodies of water which spin turbines that generate electricity. Try the experiment below to see how it works.​

What you will need :​
  • A large bowl​
  • 2 paper plates​
  • A straw​
  • 6 plastic bottle caps ​
  • 2 plastic rulers
  • A wooden skewer​
  • Sticky tack​
  • A jug of water​
  • Sellotape​
  • Strong glue
What to do :​
  1. Glue the bottle caps around the edge of one of the paper plates so that they stand up and the bottom of the caps point outwards.
  2. Then glue the other plate onto the other side to sandwich the bottle caps between the plates. ​
  3. Use a skewer to pierce the plates through the middle. ​
  4. Cut two pieces of your straw so it is the same width as your rulers and thread these pieces over your skewer. This will allow your water wheel to spin.​
  5. Place the two rulers across the bowl and fix in place with sticky tack.​
  6. Rest the two straws  on the rulers and tape down, so your water wheel is in the middle of your bowl.
  7. Pour water gently over the wheel and you should start to see it turn.

Try pouring the water more slowly and then more quickly. What do you notice happening to the water wheel?
What’s happening :

Potential energy is stored in the water in the jug. It has the potential to go somewhere and do something.​

When the water is poured from the jug over the water wheel, the movement of the water turns the wheel. The potential energy of the water is transformed into movement energy which we call kinetic energy, just like in a hydroelectric power station where the spinning turbine would generate electricity.

From the 17th to 23rd August 2020, Glasgow Science Centre ‘s #GSCAtHome campaign ran a week-long special on Powering The Future, with a series of seven engaging videos on the theme of energy.

Produced in an “at-home” style the videos introduce concepts of energy and provide instructions on how to carry out some simple experiments at home or in the classroom.

All the videos are presented by Glasgow Science Centre’s team of Science Communicators and are free to view and use in the classroom.

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