Generators and Waterwheels

This term in science we have been leaning about energy and all the different forms of energy. There are many different types of energy however, there were four that we focused on, kinetic, potential, thermal and electrical energy. 

Kinetic: Movement

Potential: Height/ Stored energy

Thermal: Heat

Electrical: Electricity 

To get a visual of how these forms of energy are transformed, we started off the unit of energy with going on a field trip to the powerhouse at Steve Falls Visitor Centre. In this museum we had a tour guide touring us around the powerhouse. We got to see how the powerhouse and how the dam works. Also from this museum we were supposed to get inspiration for our project. 

The project was a group project, Kyle, Isobel and Will were in my project. The original project brief was to create our own generator to light up an LED using nature. An example our teacher showed us was a gravity light. Gravity is used to power the light. After making the generator we had to convert it into a commercial. Our end product would be a video advertising our product. At the museum I got some inspiration to make a water wheel to power a light. We came back from the museum with the idea to make a waterwheel. 

We decided to make a waterwheel for out project. Our idea was to make a mini house to the waterwheel would power the house. However, this idea was working out very well so we had to think of something else. At the beginning of the project Kyle was experimenting with powering a LED with magnets and wire. He actually got it to work so we made a new one and changed our idea.

Let’s just say it was is a long process to make our generator. It took classes of winding wire around a tube and the trick was to wrap the wire as close together as possible. Once we wrapped the wire, we needed to solder the LED onto it, this also took a while because we kept messing up. Basically in order for the LED  to light up you shake the tube with the magnets inside and the wire wrapped around it. After a lot of revisions our generator worked! Now we still needed to power the generator by nature and humans didn’t count. Something that some of our group members enjoy is mountain biking. Using mountain biking for our commercial we could sell it as a safety light. We figured if we found a trail that was bumpy enough and if we strapped the light to the handle bars, the light would bounce up and down, moving the magnets and lighting up the LED. 

In this project math was combined. In math we have been learning about linear graphs. We had a mini project where we had to research a body of water and make a graph of how long it would take to evaporate. Will and I decided to research the Jatnajökull glacier in Iceland. An aspect of this project was to figure out how long our product would take to charge a iPhone. You can use linear equations to figure out how long it would take to charge an iPhone. Before we predicted how long it would take to charge a phone, we practiced with solar panels. In our groups we measured the voltage and converted it into Watts and we were able to determine how long it would take to charge an iPhone using a small solar panel. 


For the video we wanted to film it in the dark, so the LED lighting up would be visible. The first step for the video though was to write a script. For this we had to determine the characters, location, photographer etc.

To film our video like I said earlier, we wanted it to be dark. At 9:30pm Kyle, Will and I filmed in the forest by the school. It was pretty hard filming in the dark however we managed to capture the LED lighting up.

Here is our video:

Overall I am very proud of the outcome of our project. I think our group worked well together and our group was the only group that made their own generator. All of the other groups made waterwheels and used the hand crank generator. However, for the video aspect, there were some revisions to make it was mainly to show the cost savings in our video. 

Cost savings can be shown by comparing free energy produced by your generator to the cost of energy from BC Hydro or the cost of energy in batteries.

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