Power from the Past

The Workshop

The challenge of this topic is to investigate how to get the maximum power from the available energy.

The Workshop Investigation

Using model waterwheels, similar to the original experiment carried out by John Smeaton, teams measure how far a weight can be raised.

The angle of flow of the water and the position at which the water hits the wheel can be altered.

In order to make this experiment a fair test, the teams must ensure that the amount of water, starting positions of the wheel and the weight, and the amount of weight to be lifted all stay the same.

The teams of engineers have to decide what angles and bottle positions to test. Then each angle of flow and position of the water bottle is tested three times, and the distance the weight rises is averaged.

From these results, the engineers have to decide how best to design a waterwheel to get the maximum power from the energy of the water being pulled down by gravity.

The teams include engineers responsible for:

  • ensuring the amount of water in the bottle is the same for each test.
  • setting the angle of flow of the water, and the bottle position.
  • setting the position of the waterwheel and the weight.
  • measuring the height the weight is raised.
  • recording the experiment parameters and the results.

To access The Water Wheel Challenge Pack and Home Investigations and Activities, go to the Resources page and login to the website to download the documents.