Museum of Science and Industry

Build a Wind Turbine

Step 1 of 7:

Here's the Materials You'll Need:

Three PVC pipes, one about 30 cm long and the others at least 15 cm long
Three PVC T-joints
One PVC elbow joint
Wire (about two feet long)
Wire cutters
Hub (available from Kid Wind Project)
Wood dowels
Alligator clips
Hair dryer or fan
Materials for blades, such as balsa wood, aluminum foil, construction paper, popsicle sticks, etc.

Step 2 of 7:

Insert a 15-cm PVC pipe into the middle hole of a PVC T-joint. Repeat with another 15-cm PVC pipe and T-joint. Join the two pieces together by inserting the free ends of the pipes into the sides of a third T-joint, with the middle hole facing up.

Step 3 of 7:

Insert the remaining PVC pipe into the T-joint hole that is facing up, so that the pipe stands upright. Place the final T-joint on the free end of the tower.

Step 4 of 7:

Attach two wires to the motor. Place the motor securely into the joint at the top of the tower. Run the wires down the tower pipe and out one of the T-joints on the base. If needed, use duct tape to keep the motor in place securely.

Attach the plastic, round piece called the hub to the straight, metal piece on the outside of the motor.

Step 5 of 7:

Connect the wires to the multimeter using the alligator clips. Set the multimeter to 20 volts.

Step 6 of 7:

Place a few small, wooden dowels into the holes of the hub. Create wind using a hair dryer or fan. Check the multimeter to see how much energy is generated.

Using a variety of  materials, design different blades for the wind turbine. Consider the weight, smoothness of surface and number of blades needed. Attach the blades to the dowels using tape.

Turn on the hair dryer or fan again and test the turbine with each type of blade you design. How does the electrical output differ? Test the turbine with different wind speeds, such as low, medium and high fan settings. Does the wind speed affect the electrical energy output?

Step 7 of 7:

As the kinetic mechanical energy of the moving wind moves and rotates the blades of the wind turbine, a generator inside the turbine is also rotated. This causes a coiled wire to rotate around a magnet and creates an electrical current which we measure with a multimeter.

Since energy is neither created nor destroyed, the greater the energy input, the greater the energy output will be. Therefore, the more mechanical energy you start with -- the faster the blades turn -- the more electrical energy will be created by the turbine.

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