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Going For A Spin - Making a Model Steam Turbine

Marilyn Nemzer, Deborah Page, Anna Carter, Energy Education Group

Students explore how various energy sources can be used to cause a turbine to rotate and then generate electricity with a magnet.

Activity takes one to two 45-minute class periods. Additional materials necessary.

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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Energy Literacy

Energy is a quantity that is transferred from system to system.
Other materials addressing:
1.1 Energy is a quantity.
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:B) Designing investigations
Other materials addressing:
B) Designing investigations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:D) Technology
Other materials addressing:
D) Technology.
3. Skills for Understanding and Addressing Environmental Issues:3.1 Skills for Analyzing and Investigating Environmental Issues:C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action
Other materials addressing:
C) Identifying and evaluation alternative solutions and courses of action.

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • Be sure to go over safety precautions beforehand. Thermal gloves should be used whenever possible.
  • Educators will need to build the model first in order to understand where students might get stuck or injured.
  • Educators should point out that reversing the action of the apparatus in Part B demonstrates how electric motors work (also a feature of hybrid cars).
  • Be sure to remind the students to keep their bare skin away from the steam (page 7 of activity).

About the Science

  • Hands-on activity that demonstrates how turbines work.
  • Good at demonstrating the relationship between magnetism and electricity.

About the Pedagogy

  • Good selection of assessments to prompt student thinking and analysis.
  • Good hands-on activities to gain a tactile understanding of how a generator works.
  • Student answer sheets are missing, but the activity can be done without them.
  • Building (kinesthetic) type activities increase participation of students with different learning styles.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Necessary materials are commonly found in a classroom or at home.

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