Posted 14th Jul 2016
Encourage the children to have fun outside this summer with this challenging water wheel project
Before heading to the stream, ask the children to collect a few hazelnut twigs. These will be used to make the water wheel holder. The first task is to strip off the leaves, then trim down into two Y-shaped sticks. Sharpening the edges makes it easier to stake them into the ground. It is not always easy to find the right spot in the stream, as the current must be strong enough to turn the wheel. It is best to find a small waterfall and get to work setting up the water wheel nearby, or at home in the garden, returning later to see the wheel in action.
To make the water wheel you will need:
- An old wooden crate (you can usually get one from a supermarket)
- A piece of square timber (6cm x 6cm cross-section)
- Wood glue
- A metal pole (diameter approximately 6mm and length approximately 50cm)
- Two corks
- Metre rule
- Pocket knife
1 First, carefully remove the nails from the wooden crate so you are left with individual slats of wood. Choose the four best-looking slats. They should all be the same width and not have any cracks.
2 Using the metre rule, mark out strips measuring 20cm (depending on the length of the slats you might get two pieces out of one slat).
3 Children can help each other with the sawing, though an adult should always supervise. One child can use the saw whilst the other holds the slat tight.
4 The centrepiece for the water wheel is sawn out of the square block of timber. The length of this centrepiece must be the same as the width of the slats. Mark the width of the slat onto the square of wood using a pencil. Children will need an adultâ€™s help with the next step.
5 Drill a hole through the top of the square of wood. The hole should be big enough to allow the metal pole to rotate freely inside it. For a pole measuring 6mm thick, a diameter of 10mm is sufficient for the hole.
6 Spread wood glue on one side of the timber block. Lay a slat on top and hold it down tight for a few minutes.
7 To ensure the wood pieces stay firmly together, hammer nails firmly into each corner.
8 Attach the other slats to the three remaining sides of the square timber in the same way. The easiest way to do this is on the edge of a table, or you can make a work surface from a stone bench in the garden.
9 Thread the metal pole through the drilled hole.
10 Stick a cork on each of the pole ends. You can now test the wheel out on dry land to see whether the wheel turns. It will take about two hours for the glue to dry completely, so it's a good idea to make the water wheel the day before you intend to use it.
Care should be taken when handling sharp instruments and working near water. Adult supervision is strongly recommended at all times