By building a water wheel, your students can see how energy is converted between potential and kinetic. The water wheel also provides an opportunity to explore variables that can solve real problems. The teaching notes below provide background information on potential and kinetic energy.
As a class, review the terms work, energy and power and discuss the relationship between the three concepts (see the teaching notes, below, for more content).
Ask students where they have seen water wheels in the world, and what they were being used for. Water wheels convert potential energy to kinetic energy and perform work.
Organize your students into pairs, and have them complete the "Water wheel investigation" worksheet as they go.
Collect the "Water wheel investigation" worksheets and assess the students’ ability to:
Learn more about how energy is related to the concepts of work and power with the "Work, energy, power" activity.
Energy is the ability or capacity to do work and is measured in joules (J). Energy can be transformed into another type of energy, but it cannot be created and it cannot be destroyed.
There are many different forms of energy (heat, light, electric, elastic, etc.) but all energy is either potential or kinetic.