How to make a water wheel for children

Water wheels capture and convert the energy from water into usable power. Water wheels are used in mills to grind grain, cut wood, produce paper and pump water. A miniature water wheel is a science project that is entertaining for children while it also shows them the basic concept of converting water into energy.

Cut two water bottles into thirds (top, middle and bottom) using scissors.

Cut the centre section of the bottle into eight equal strips.

Stick two skewers together using scotch tape to create one long skewer.

Attach the water bottle strips to the centre of the skewer, using scotch tape, to create a fan shape.

Turn the bottle tops so the cut end is up and place each over the strips you attached to the skewer and mark where the strip sides meet the bottle edge using a felt tip pen.

Cut slits into the bottle tops where you've marked the strip sides.

Pierce a hole in the bottle lids using scissors.

Slide the bottle tops, cut end first, over each end of the skewer and insert the skewer through the lid holes.

Insert the fan strips into the incisions you made in the cut end of the bottle top.

Tape the incisions where the bottle tops and strips join and glue the lid holes to seal.

Poke three holes spaced close together vertically in the top sides of two more water bottles and pierce a hole in each cap using scissors.

Fill each bottle half full with sand.

Cut two corks into slices of about 1 inch.

Cut two flower shapes out of a piece of cardboard, slightly larger than the circumference of the water bottles.

Paint both sides of the flowers and set them aside to dry.

Slide the skewer ends into the top hole of each water bottle.

Push a piece of cork on the ends of two more skewers so about an inch of skewer protrudes.

Poke a hole into the centre of each flower using scissors.Slide a flower onto each skewer until it meets the cork.

Insert the long end of the skewers into the lids of the sand-filled bottles and top with the remaining pieces of cork.

Place the water wheel either in shallow running water or under a tap so the water runs over the plastic strips and watch the flowers and the wheel move with the water's force.

Cut ten strips 2 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide from the foam board using scissors.

Cut two 6-inch diameter circles from the foam board and attach the strips to one of the circles in a bicycle spoke pattern. Glue the other circle to the opposite end of the strips to create your wheel.

Cut two A shapes, at least 6 inches tall, from the foam board to create a base.

Insert a skewer through the centre of the wheel and insert the skewer ends into the top of each A shape so your wheel is centred between the A's. Seal with glue.

Place your water wheel in the sink and turn on a small amount of water over the wheel to watch it spin.

Things You'll Need

  • Water bottles with lids
  • Scissors
  • Skewers
  • Corks
  • Sand
  • Cardboard
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Water
  • 1/2-inch foam board
  • Straight pins
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About the Author

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.