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Believe it or not, most of the electricity you use comes from moving magnets around coils of wire! Wind turbines spin big coils of wire around very powerful magnets (or very powerful magnets around big coils of wire) by capturing the flow.


Here’s how it works: when a propeller is placed in a moving fluid (like the water from your sink or wind from your hair dryer), the propeller turns. If you attach the propeller to a motor shaft, the motor will rotate, which has coils of wire and magnets inside. The faster the shaft turns, the more the magnets create an electrical current.


The electricity to power your computer, your lights, your air conditioning, your radio or whatever, comes from spinning magnets or wires! Refer to Unit 11 for more detail about how moving magnets create electricity.


We’re going to build a wind turbine that will actually give you different amounts of electricity depending on which way your propeller is facing. Ready?


You’ll need to find these items below.  Note – if you have trouble locating parts, check the shopping list for information on how to order it straight from us.


  • A digital Multimeter
  • Alligator clip leads
  • 1.5-3V DC Motor
  • 9-18VDC Motor
  • Bi-polar LED
  • Foam block (about 6” long)
  • Propeller from old toy or cheap fan, or balsa wood airplane

Here’s what you do:


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Download Student Worksheet & Exercises


Using the same solar cell, you can also build a Solar Car and a Solar Boat.


Exercises


  1. True or false: Electricity in a wind turbine is created by magnets in the turbine:
    1. True
    2. False
  2. What is one advantage of using wind for electricity?
  3.  What might be one problem with constructing wind farms to meet all our energy needs?

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