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Water Turbine

Let water spin you round, right round, round, round

Australian Curriculum links

  • Science > Physical Sciences > Year 6 > ACSSU097
  • Science > Physical Sciences > Year 7 > ACSSU117
  • Science > Earth and Space Sciences > Year 7 > ACSSU116

You’ll need

  • Drinking straw
  • Scissors
  • Blu Tack
  • Plastic teaspoons
  • Permanent marker pen
  • Skewer
  • Large, deep plastic container

Try this

  1. Cut a piece of drinking straw about 4 cm long. Form a thick ring of Blu Tack around the centre of the straw.
  2. Cut about half the length of the handle off four plastic teaspoons. Make a spiral of spoons around the straw by pushing the end of the plastic spoons into the Blu Tack. Ensure that the spoons all face the same direction in the spiral.
  3. Thread the skewer through the drinking straw. Place the skewer axle onto the top of the container so that the spoon wheel sits half way in and spins freely.
  4. Pour the water from the jug onto the spoon blades of your turbine. Can you get it to spin?
  5. Use a permanent marker pen to mark one of the spoons. Now count the number of revolutions in 10 seconds as you pour water from the jug.

Further investigation

  • How can you make it spin faster? Try using more or less spoons or pouring the water faster or slower. You could also try moving the angle of the spoons
  • Check out other water wheels used in the real world. Can you model your water turbine on these and see if it works better than the spoon version?

What’s happening?

The water wheel represents a water turbine and the stream of water from the jug represents the powerful stream of water from a waterfall or dam.

Most of Australia’s electricity comes from coal-fired power stations which generate electricity by burning coal to heat water so that it turns into steam. This fast moving steam is used to spin a great big turbine which in turn creates electricity. Hydropower also creates electricity from a large spinning turbine, but it uses water flow instead of steam to drive the turbine. Many hydropower stations use the powerful flows of waterfalls to spin the giant turbines, others use the power harnessed by dams.