Activity Introduction

Quick summary: Students experiment using trial and error and then refine their adjustments on a model wind generator. They find the best blade adjustments to maximize the efficiency of a wind turbine. Activity adapted from Save the Earth Science Experiments*.

Learning goals for this activity include:

  • Identify the blade shapes that are most successful at creating energy when used in a wind turbine.
  • Demonstrate ability to work independently or collaboratively to follow instructions and complete activity.
  • Demonstrate ability to recognise and use a range of materials and tools to complete activity.
  • Demonstrate ability to use models to explain or demonstrate a concept.
  • Demonstrate ability to write and articulate scientific observations.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work independently or collaboratively to research and compile information on issues and to communicate lessons from research through art or literacy exercises (extension).

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions:

Year 7 Science

  • Change to an object’s motion is caused by unbalanced forces acting on the object (ACSSU117)
  • In fair tests, measure and control variables, and select equipment to collect data with accuracy appropriate to the task (ACSIS126)

Year 8 Science

  • Energy appears in different forms including movement (kinetic energy), heat and potential energy, and causes change within systems(ACSSU155)
  • In fair tests, measure and control variables, and select equipment to collect data with accuracy appropriate to the task (ACSIS141)

Syllabus Outcomes: SC4-5WS, SC4-6WS, SC4-10PW

Topic: Energy

Year levels: 7 and 8

Indoor or outdoor activity: Indoor

Duration of activity: 45 mins

Learning areas addressed: Science, Design and Technology.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Gather and prepare equipment, assist students with experiment.

Resources required: Each group or pair will need the following: a rubber band, 1.5 volt DC motor, ruler, wire cutters, insulated wire, voltmeter or multimeter, 18 large paper clips, scissors, thin cardboard, cork, masking tape, fan, marker pens, electrical tape (optional), Worksheet 1, 2 and 3 (or create your own Worksheet 3).

Homework and extension opportunities: This activity has opportunities for homework and extension.
* Activity adapted from: Save the Earth Science Experiments (2008), Elizabeth Snoke Harris, Lark Books, New York, USA.

Keywords: Energy, renewable energy, wind turbines. 

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.

Worksheets

Teacher Worksheet

Teacher preparation

Students will work in groups or pairs to build a small wind turbine and experiment with different blades to see which ones produce the greatest amount of energy.

Give each group or pair a copy of Worksheet 2 showing the blade templates. Ask groups to share with the class the blade design that they believe will be most effective and the one they think will be least effective. Record these responses on the board or separate piece of paper.
Begin the experiment by making the wind turbine so that you can test the 3 types of blades.
Students can work off of the instructions in Worksheet 1, or you can lead the class through the experiment (see below).

Making the wind turbine

1. Use the rubber band to attach the body of the motor to the end of the ruler. Be sure that the shaft of the motor extends beyond the end of the ruler, and that the motor’s leads or outlets point towards the other end of the ruler.

2. Use the wire cutters to cut two 30cm pieces of insulated wire.

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Student Worksheet

Worksheet 1:

Making the wind turbine – instructions

1. Use the rubber band to attach the body of the motor to the end of the ruler. Be sure that the shaft of the motor extends beyond the end of the ruler, and that the motor’s leads or outlets point towards the other end of the ruler.

2. Use the wire cutters to cut two 30cm pieces of insulated wire. Then remove about 2.5cm of the insulation from each end of both wires, so that the wire is exposed.

3. Attach one end of each wire to one of the motor’s leads or outlets. You can secure the wires with electrical tape if you need.

4. Tape the middle of the wires to the ruler to hold them in place. Attach the other ends of the wires to the voltmeter (or multimeter). This will measure how much voltage the windmill will produce (see Figure 2, following page).

5. Now it’s time to make the blades for the turbine. Measure and cut out each blade design and make 6 copies of each from the cardboard.

6. Take one set of the blades and 6 of the p

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