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Water Turbine Model

Students see how the movement of water can be used to produce other kinds of energy.

Water is a renewable resource and an important source of electricity on the west coast of Canada. The energy of moving water is used to turn turbines which generate electricity. In British Columbia, almost 90 per cent of our electric energy comes from hydro-electricity plants.


  • Build a model of a water turbine.


  • cardboard or card stock
    craft knife
    running water

Key Questions

  • What happens to the turbine when you change the speed of the water flow? How can you make your turbine spin in a different direction?

What To Do

  1. Carefully make five–six slits lengthwise in the cork.
  2. Cut out rectangular pieces of cardboard the same length as and a bit wider than the cork. These will be the blades of the turbine.
  3. Slide the blades into the cork slits to form a propeller.
  4. Make a small cardboard frame by cutting a strip of cardboard, and bending it into a “U” shape.
  5. Poke a pin into each end of the cork through the cardboard frame.
  6. Hold the turbine model underneath a running tap (or use a jug of water over a bucket).


  • How is a watermill different from a water turbine? (A watermill uses the movement of the water wheel to grind grain. The energy is converted to mechanical not electrical energy.) What would happen if you cut different size blades? Different shapes?

Other Resources

Science World Resources | Full Lesson & other activities | Alternative Energy
Science World Electricity Online Games