Learning objective: to learn about turbines - what they are and how they accomplish work (generate energy); to analyze a problem and develop and test a solution, key skills for scientific and engineering careers. Materials Needed:
- Large paper cup
- Unsharpened pencil
- 4 large index cards
- Masking tape
- Washers in assorted sizes
- Class forms teams, and selects team names.
- Distribute materials to each team.
- Discuss what a turbine is: a large, bladed “windmill” that turns with the force of wind or water, and can do work—grinding grain, pumping water, or generating energy.
- Challenge the teams to construct their own turbines out of the materials at hand.
- When they have a test version ready, they can bring it up for a wind test. Blast it with the hair dryer and count how many turns it makes. Or, see if it can turn with enough force to lift a small weight. Tie a washer with a string on to the pencil to see if their turbine can lift it.
- Track results with a chart on the chalkboard.
- After testing, send them back to improve their design.
- When there are about 10 minutes left, select a few that are working well to demonstrate to the class and report on their findings.