Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

This resource was created by Leeds Museums and Galleries | Thwaite Watermill.


Curriculum Links

  • KS3 Science: Forces
  • KS3 Science: Energy changes and transfers

Activity Ideas

  • Construct and test your own water wheel using the downloadable activity sheet or you could construct one in a woodworking workshop. There's also a powerpoint showing how to find the centre of a circle for creating a stable rotation.

    • Scientific enquiry:

      Test water wheel efficiency by counting number of rotations in 30 seconds. Ask pupils if they think they could increase the number of rotations and how.
      Test whether the flow of water makes a difference to the speed of the wheel, do this by pouring water (or beans if you don’t want the risk of getting wet) from a greater height. Count the rotations of the wheel at each height. Ask pupils to form a hypothesis and note the variables and constants before beginning the experiment so it is a fair test.

      After collecting results pupils can place their findings into a bar or line chart and conclude whether their hypothesis is correct.
  • Make a weir: Build a ramp (make sure it's water tight) and pour water down it to represent the flow of a river. You could potentially add an undershot water wheel to the side of the river to see if the wheel rotates. Ask the pupils if they can think of a way to harness the flow of water to make the wheel rotate more effectively. Build a weir (wall/ barricade) and see how it makes a difference to the water flow and if it can increase the wheel efficiency.