Earlier this week Year 7 spent the day in the science labs designing and building hydroelectric turbines. Since the start of term Year 7 have been learning about energy transfers and, more recently, have been studying energy resources. The pupils needed to use all of their background knowledge about energy and forces to complete this practical challenge.
The year group were split into 11 teams and challenged to transfer the kinetic energy of falling water into electrical energy. Each team had to design and build a turbine, connect it to a generator and build a support structure that would hold the turbine in the correct place beneath a model waterfall. In case this was not sufficiently challenging each team also had to consider the cost of their design as each component used had a ‘price’; the cheapest turbines received more points.
The groups quickly got to work and built some super turbines, many of which were tested and appeared to be very effective. However, building support structures so that the turbine could be free standing was very challenging – not least because the structure had a maximum size and had to be waterproof. Some early turbine designs had to be remodelled when the groups hit difficulties attaching them to a structure. I was impressed with the way that many of the groups adapted their designs to overcome these problems, but the toughest challenge was yet to come. In order to determine which turbine would generate the most electricity the turbine needed to be connected to a multimeter via a cog system. Each team needed to choose appropriately sized cogs and find a way to fix them in place securely enough for the turbine to connect to the generator. Duct tape and corrugated plastic were used to great effect!
At the end of the day the results were announced and prizes awarded as follows:
Cheapest design: Alicia Neilson, Phoebe Foster, Joshua Tate, Alec McFarlane and Derry Carter Brennan.
Best overall design: Ollie Samuel, Dan Lockhart, Ferdie Borchardt and Lily Laughton; their structure generated 1810mV.
It was great to see all the children working collaboratively and with such enthusiasm, perhaps some will become the engineers of the future!