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Lesson Title:

Improving a model wind turbine

Design and TechnologyD & T


KS2 Wind 5d

Key Stage:


Year Group:


National Curriculum Links:

See Background for England, Scotland & Wales links

QCA Unit:

Sci-5/6H (Adapted)
teaching resources for climate change and environment teaching resources for climate change and environment teaching resources for climate change and environment  

Lesson Objectives



To know that gears of various kinds are used in some everyday objects. To use a belt and pulley system to increase the speed of generator rotation in the model turbine.
5 mm diameter dowel
A range of pulleys
Adhesive tape
Cartoon - How wind turbines work
Cotton Reels
Desktop electric fan
Digital voltmeter
Elastic bands
Insulated wires with crocodile clips
PowerPoint Making more electricity
Quiz - How wind turbines work
Used cardboard eg cereal packs
Video - How wind turbines work
Worksheet Generating more electricity


renewable energy
fossil fuels

Introduction Activity:

What do the class know about gear systems? Can they think of any that are used in everyday life? What are they used for? Challenge them to think of as many gear systems as possible. Then explain that we will be learning about how to use a gear system to generate even more electricity from their model wind turbine.

teaching resources for climate change and environment teaching resources for climate change and environment teaching resources for climate change and environment

Main Activity

Estimated Time


Key Questions:

To understand rotational speed in a wind turbine - Video 4 How Wind Turbines Work

Re watch the Wind Video 4 How Wind Turbines Work and try and spot what happens to increase the speed of rotation of the generator.

Focus on the function of the gear box which increases the rotation from 30 revolutions per minute at the blades to 1500 revolutions per minute in the generator.

It may be difficult for them to understand this concept but the following PowerPoint looks at the idea of gear systems in more detail and should clarify this process.

How can you increase the amount of electricity you can make from your turbine model?

To understand how gear systems work in everyday objects - PowerPoint 'Making more electricity'

PowerPoint 'Making more electricity' gives some examples of gear systems that are used in everyday life. By going through this and answering the questions, the class will understand what a gear system is. It is essential that you go through this prior to the lesson and if possible, bring in some of the examples that are used so that the class can see them working in 'real life'. Worksheet 'Generating more electricity' is provided if you would like the class to produce written evidence of this work. They could complete the sheet individually, in pairs or groups and can self assess as they go along. The answers to the questions come up when you 'view slide show' in the PowerPoint.

What is a gear system?

How does it work?

To learn how to make a model turbine go faster! - PowerPoint 'Making More Electricity'

Slide 8 onwards shows how pupils can adapt their wind turbine and fit gears. When showing these last slides point out that the pupils will have to:
Carefully dismantle the generator section of their model turbine;
Rebuild the turbine incorporating a pair of different sized pulleys to try and increase the amount of electricity generated in the previous lesson. They should use something like the cotton reels to support the turbine axle structure and large pulley; cellotape to fix the unit on top of the turbine and stop it twisting can be very helpful.
Turn the turbine blades by hand to initially test that their construction works;
Be patient and carefully adjust the model until it works efficiently.

When the pupils have an efficient model let them:
Test their reconstructed turbine with the electric fan and voltmeter;
Experiment with different combinations of pulley sizes to improve performance.

How can you make the turbine go faster?


Discuss some of the problems they encountered in construction and how they were/could be solved. The final lesson in this series will be a fuller evaluation session. What worked well? What could have worked better?



ENGLAND - National Curriculum (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) Key Stage 2
D & T 3a, b, c 4a, b, c, d Sci4 1a, 2c Sc1 - 1, 2 Geo 5a, b

SCOTLAND - Second Level Curriculum (Curriculum for Excellence)
Planet Earth - Sustainability – SCN 201A, SCN 202A
Energy in the Environment – Energy Transfer – SCN215F
Energy in the Environment – Energy Sources - SCN 217G, SCN 218G
Energy in the Environment – Electricity – SCN 220J
Forces and Motion – SCN 222L

Social Studies
People, place and environment – SOC 208G

Expressive Arts
Art and Design – EXA 206E, EXA 207F, EXA 208G, EXA 209H

WALES – National Curriculum for Wales (2008)

Communication – 2, 3
Enquiry - all
Developing – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
Reflecting – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

How things work – 2, 3
Interdependence of organisms – 7
The sustainable Earth - 4

Understanding places, environments and processes – 3
Investigating – 1, 2, 3
Communicating – 1, 2, 3

-Living in my world: caring for places and environments an the importance of being a global citizen
Carry out
-Fieldwork to observe and investigate real places and processes
Ask and answer questions
-How have people affected this place/environment? How can I and other people look after this environment?
-How do people’s views differ about this geographical issue and what do I think?

Design and Technology
Designing – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
Making – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Rigid and flexible materials – 10, 11, 12
Systems and control – 13, 14

-tasks in which they explore and investigate simple products in order to acquire technological knowledge and understanding that can be applied in their designing and making
- tasks in which they learn about the responsible use of materials, considering issues of sustainability
- tasks in which they develop and practice particular skills and techniques that can be applied in their designing and making
- tasks in which they design and make products, focusing on different contexts and materials

Health and safety
Pupils should be taught how to use tools/utensils and equipment safely and to consider the hazards and risks in their activities, behaviour and lifestyle. They should be able to follow instructions to control risk to themselves and others.

D&T Unit 4B Storybooks and Unit 3D Photograph frames: both units contain several elements that are covered in this alternative lesson plan
Mathematics: Number (add, increase, decrease), measurement (standard measures, centimetre, millimetre, metre)

Notes for teachers:
This is a lesson in which pupils modify their small model wind turbine. They test their model in the classroom using an electric fan and a digital voltmeter. Pupils will need their wind turbine models from the previous lesson.

Health and Safety Issues
A desktop electric fan is used to create the “wind” for this and subsequent lessons. However there are safety issues.
1. Pupils will need to be closely supervised when using the fan. Long hair, jewellery or loose clothing could all become entangled in the fan and present an obvious hazard.
2. The fan needs to be safely located, without dangerous trailing leads.
3. Children need to stand back from their turbine blades when they are rotating in case one or more of the blades comes off. You may want the children standing near to the turbine to wear safety goggles.

The PowerPoint for this lesson guides children through four examples of how different gear systems are used in every day home appliances (hand drill, rechargeable torch, bicycle and vacuum cleaner).
Pupils are encouraged to use the method in the final example (cleaner), a pulley and belt system, to try and generate more electricity from their most efficient turbine, produced in the previous lesson.
Designing a pulley and belt system requires both patience and careful construction techniques. Some children may need quite a lot of support and time to complete this activity successfully.

(This lesson is based on work by Ian Mitchell, The Green Egg Company, developed & edited by Amie Andrews for TLCP and Vicky Darrell & Ali Ross, Sundog Energy.)

Dulas Ltd offers professional services for renewable energySundog Energy designs, supplies and installs systems that generate electricity from solar or wind energySHARP Creating an environmentally conscious company with sincerity and creativityProven Energy is the worlds leading supplier of small wind turbines.