Friday, June 24, 2011

Big Wheels Keep On Turning...


As Science in a Van travel around we see many interesting things.  Check out the pics of the water wheel we saw in Okaihau. Later in this blog we will talk you through making your very own water wheel.


Water wheels were a great source of energy for early industry.  The wheel in the pic was used in a flax mill on the McAulay property dating in the 1890s.  Flax production was at its highest in NZ in 1880 to 1910.  Okaihau saw a growth in population around 1868 with settlers from Europe and Canada. The water wheel as it stands now is a memorial to those early settlers.

You will need:
  • A plastic plate
  • Scissors
  • A Pencil
  • Running tap (or a way of pouring water)
  1. Cut six slots from the edge about 40mm towards the center.
  2. Now fold where the cuts are.  This will create the blades that will get hit by the falling water.
  3. Take your pencil and carefully push it through the center. This creates the axle.
  4. Start the water running slowly.  Rest the pencil on your hands (like in the video).
  5. Hold your water wheel under the stream of water so that the water hits the blades.
  6. Watch your water wheel spin!



Our water wheels spin thanks to the force of the water being pulled down by gravity.  The turning action is also helped by the water that briefly stays on the blades and makes them heavier.  The one in Okaihau has cups, they fill with water and the wheel becomes heavier on one side and turns.  The spinning axle would have been connected to machinery.

Hope you have enjoyed this blog. More to come as Science in a Van travel across New Zealand.