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Wind Turbine

Making renewable energy is a breeze

Australian Curriculum links

  • Science > Earth and Space Sciences > Year 4 > ACSSU076
  • Science > Earth and Space Sciences > Year 7 > ACSSU116
  • Science > Physical Sciences > Year 10 > ACSSU117

You’ll need

  • Thin cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Skewers
  • Masking tape
  • Cork or plasticine
  • Drinking straw
  • Hairdryer/fan

Try this

  1. Cut a skewer at 10cm length from the pointed end. Keep both parts
  2. Push the 10cm skewer through side of the cork (half way along the cylinder) so that you have even lengths of the skewer either side. (you may need to pre-drill the hole).
  3. Cut two rectangles out of the cardboard (approx. 4cm x 7cm).
  4. Tape the rectangles of cardboard to each side of the skewer to make the blades.
  5. Pierce the unused part of the skewer through one end of the cork. Slide the straw over this skewer.
  6. Hold the straw so the turbine is in front of a hairdryer or fan annd watch it spin

Further investigation

  • How fast does your turbine spin? How can you measure this?
  • What happens to the speed of the turbine if you adjust the angle of the blades?
  • Try designing different size and shaped blades. How does this affect the speed of the turbine?

What’s happening?

This is a model of a wind turbine. Engineers use small models to test for the most efficient design before spending lots of money to create a life sized wind turbine. The shape and size of the blades on a wind turbine affect how fast it spins. Larger blades tend to spin faster than smaller blades. The angle of the blades can make a big difference to the speed of the turbine. If the blades are facing the wind flat, they will act like a brick wall and are unlikely to turn the turbine. Similarly, if the blades are in line with the wind, the wind will pass straight over them. The best angle is somewhere between these two positions and will vary depending on wind speed and direction.

Most of Australia’s electricity comes from coal-fired power stations. Around the world, more and more electricity is being made from wind. About 2% of the solar energy that reaches Earth is converted into wind energy. Wind is a renewable source of energy. The benefit of renewable wind power is that once a wind turbine is built it does not need fuel, unlike a coal-fired power station.