GOING FOR A SPIN: Making a Model Steam Turbine

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1 GOING FOR A SPIN: Making a Model Steam Turbine PLANNING OVERVIEW SUBJECT AREAS: Physical Science, Math, Language Arts TIMING: Preparation: minutes Activity: minute class periods Note: Going for a Spin and Getting Current are best done in conjunction with one another. Summary Students explore how various energy sources can be used to cause a turbine to rotate. Objectives Students will: Recognize how the force of wind, falling water, and expanding steam can be used to do work. Create a model of a turbine and cause it to spin using the forces of wind, falling water, and expanding steam. Create a steam device that simulates some of the conditions of a steam-driven power plant. Use the scientific method to write up their work, including hypothesizing and drawing conclusions. Assess the ability of the turbine model to actually generate electricity. Use diagrams and narratives to describe how their apparatus worked and why. Compare their models to an actual power plant. Materials Per student group: 2 aluminum pie pans Metal funnel, 4 inches (10 cm) Scissors Compass (for drawing circles) Ruler Pencils Several plastic straws (the long soda type is best, but regular sized straws can be used) Push pins Small, thin washer (optional) Small cooking pot, no bigger than 5 or 6 inches (13-15 cm) Student Handout, Going for a Spin, pages 4-7 Copy of Chapter 2 Discussion, Energy and Electricity Student Handout, Scientific Method Form, page 3 of the Appendix For all groups to share at a central station : Hot plate(s) or other heat source(s) Oven mitts Source(s) of falling water, such as a faucet and sink, or a large jug or bottle of water and a bucket or tub Towels for clean-up Teaching Notes Please review with your students all safety rules for working with heat and steam, particularly if you must use an open flame. Remind students to take care when cutting the aluminum pie plates. This activity is intended for use in conjunction with the activity, Getting Current. Each represents the two main functions of many typical power plants. However, each activity is designed to stand alone, if necessary. The turbine model in this activity is not powerful enough to generate electricity, but it will successfully show students how different energy sources cause a turbine to spin. In Getting Current students will demonstrate how electricity is produced using electromagnetism. Though the two activities cannot be connected to produce electricity using the turbine model, students should be able to make a mental link between the two devices. 1

4 GOING FOR A SPIN: Making a Model Steam Turbine In this activity you will demonstrate how different energy sources can be used to spin a turbine. Remember that the sole purpose of spinning a turbine at a power plant is to rotate an electrical generator. The turbine in this activity is not strong enough to operate an electrical generator; however, you can still experience how the force of wind, water, and steam are used to make a turbine spin. You will also be constructing a device that produces steam in a manner similar to that used at a steam-driven power plant. You will recall from the Chapter 2 Discussion that the actual steam production technology at a power plant is extremely sophisticated and produces steam at very high pressures. However, this activity works well enough to get the point across. Be sure to review all the safety instructions found in the Student Preface before you begin this activity. Materials Per student group: 2 aluminum pie pans Metal funnel, 4 inches (10 cm) Scissors Compass (for drawing circles) Ruler Pencils Several plastic straws (the long soda type is best, but regular sized straws can be used) Push pins Small, thin washer (optional) Small cooking pot, no bigger than 5 or 6 inches (13-15 cm) Copy of Student Activity, Going for a Spin Copy of Chapter 2 Discussion, Energy and Electricity Copy of Scientific Method Form, page 185 For all groups to share at a central station : Hot plate(s) or other heat source(s) Oven mitts Source(s) of falling water, such as a faucet and sink, or a large jug or bottle of water and a bucket or tub Towels for clean-up Procedure THE TURBINE 1. Using your compass, measure and draw a 3.5 inch (approximately 8 cm) diameter circle with a pencil on one of the aluminum pie plates. Divide the circle into halves, then fourths, then eighths (marking the divisions by drawing your pencil down the straight edge of the ruler). As shown in the diagram, cut the circle into 8 blades by cutting along the 8 divisions on the solid lines, to within 3 4 inch (2 cm) of the center. Make sure not to cut all the way to the center. 4

7 2. Test your turbine with a stream of falling water, making any needed adjustments for optimum spin. See how fast you can get the turbine to spin. Try varying amounts of falling water and varying heights from which the water falls before it hits the turbine. 3. Test your turbine using steam. Using the heat source, fill the cooking pot 1 4 full of water and bring to a boil. Wearing oven mitts, place your steam device on top of the pan. Make sure that the funnel fully covers the opening in the middle of the pie plate. Steam should be issuing only from the funnel opening. 4. Wearing an oven mitt, hold your turbine face down over (but not directly on) the funnel opening. Remove the turbine and gently adjust its blades, if needed, to ensure optimum spin. Hold the turbine over the funnel opening again and raise and lower it slowly to see at which height it will spin fastest. Using the ruler, make an estimated measurement of the height from the funnel opening at which your turbine s top speed was achieved. 5. Stay in your groups to finish your experiment write-ups. EXTRA CREDIT: Describe how you would design a turbine model that would actually be able to generate a small amount of electricity using a very small generator. If it worked, what electrical apparatus could it run? 7

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