Just before Half-Term we spent the day in the science labs and attempted to build a hydroelectric machine. We were put into mixed groups of 5, it was interesting to work with people we don’t always see. First of all we got an introduction to engineering. Thea, who was visiting from STEM South West, introduced the challenge. We had to generate electricity for a small group of people living in the middle of the Amazon. They could not use solar panels or wind turbines because the trees were too tall. We thought it would be best to collect the energy from falling water in a nearby river.
There were lots of materials to choose from, but we couldn’t ‘buy’ too much as it would make our machine too expensive for the people in the Amazon rainforest. Then we had to design and build a turbine that would spin when the water fell on it. The spinning transferred the energy from the moving water to our wheel, this was connected to a generator using cogs. The generator converted the kinetic energy into electrical energy which the villagers could use.
Thea was really good at keeping us going on the building part of the project. We were not supposed to ask her questions, but to work out the solutions to problems on our own. At first we struggled a bit, but our project became more stable when we changed the frame. The style of learning was educational and fun, even though we kept making the frame too big. Our favourite part of the day was testing our designs as it was tense waiting to see if they would work. The water sprayed everywhere but the turbine went around and we made 1050mV of electricity. We had a ball. We think that engineering is fun and it is a good skill to have in the future.
At the end of the day the results were announced. The winners had to make lots of electrical energy, but the design also had to look good, and be cheap to build. We watched a film which showed us that renewable energy sources can provide electricity cheaper than from burning fossil fuels. Water turbines in South Africa provide a source of energy without releasing carbon into the atmosphere.
The results were:
3rd: Dorothy Johnstone, Ned Hanbury, Emma Sharp, Harry Fuller, Henry Shrimshaw-Wright
2nd:Max Owen, Charlotte Hannon, Alex Taylor, Alex Ross, Emily Connor, Max Moseley
1st: Henry Fitzpatrick, Tom Pritchard, Charlie Robinson, Ed Hartley, Meredith Powell-Turner
It was a good day of engineering and thank you for letting us have a fun day of science.