Solar4Scholars: Make your Own Hydro Turbine

Hydro-electricity is the most widely used form of renewable energy. It is an important component of the energy grid for California. In Canada, hydro-electricity supplies a significant portion of the energy grid giving that country some of the cheapest electricity rates in the world.

What you will need:


  1. Cut the cardboard or playing cards into a size you want. The suggested method might be to cut them lengthwise in fours. Eight to twelve strips will be plenty.
  2. Cut slits into the cork and insert the card strips into the slits.
  3. Insert the pins into the end and set these into a small U shaped holder.

This will give you a very basic idea of how a hydro-electric turbine spins.

Learn more

You can also go to an electronics store and buy a mini or micro generator. You can hook one of these to one side of your 'turbine' (instead of one of the pins). You will also need to hold your 'turbine' more securely in place.

Improvise in style

Mechanical toys such as Meccano or even Tinker Toy can also be adapted easily to help you build a small turbine.


A very good substitution for playing cards would be to use plastic spoons with the handles snapped or cut off.

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