Water is a renewable resource that is an important source of electricity in California and the Northwest. The potential energy of water is harnessed to produce mechanical energy which can be used directly, or used to generate electricity.

Moving Water -- Moving Blades

You can make a small water turbine model by taping cardboard strips on a cork. Put pins in the ends for axles and make a U-shaped holder for it. You can also slip metal or plastic fins into the slits made in the cork. This will turn as fast as the water stream is moving, so generally turbines have high speed jets directed toward them.

An Overshot Waterwheel

This model is like the old waterwheels used for grinding grain or running machines. Great power and slow speed were needed to turn the heavy grinding stones at an even speed.

This device could use a relatively small stream. It is the weight of the water in the buckets that causes the wheel to overbalance and turn. You can equip your wheel with a string and bucket and find out how much weight the mechanism can lift.

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