WSU Whatcom County Extension

Stewardship is Where You Are

Electrical Entrepreneurs

The Big Picture

Long before electricity was discovered and harnessed, humans used the power of running water and wind.

Watermill and Windmill

Using simple gears, these old fashioned mills were used to cut lumber or grind corn. When the electrical generator was conceived, the mills were adapted to spin generators.

Electricity is not considered a non-renewable or renewable resource. It is called a secondary resource because it is generated through mechanical means. Inventions throughout time have helped us create and utilize electrical energy, and now it seems we could scarcely exist without it. One of the best things about electricity is that we can use our natural renewable resources to generate it. Solar power, wind power and water power can move turbines that spin electrical generators. It is a fairly simple operation which has vast reaching consequences.

Explorer - Skill Level: One Engager - Skill Level: Two Citizen Scientist - Skill Level: Three


Putting a project together

Activity: It’s Electrifying!

Objective: Build a simple electrical generator

Life Skill: Wise Use of Resources

Science Skills: Build, Infer, Use Tools

What You Will Need:
Simple: Electrical Generator Kit (available on loan from Extension Office)
Difficult: The Creative Science Centre Instructions

Preparation Activities:
Review the instructions for building and demonstrating electrical generators and choose which one you will pursue. The more difficult option will require more time and cost gathering materials, but may be of greater educational value.

motor: electrical to mechanical, a current flown through coil in presence of magnetic field results in motion

generator: mechanical to electrical, a coil is rotated in a magnetic field causes generation of electricity

Assist the youth in building a generator. If choosing to build one of the more difficult versions, draw their attention to the hand crank or drill. Talk about the difference between a motor and generator.

Asking the right questions:
What kind of energy is being used to create the electricity? If we are using a drill to create electricity what does the drill use? When you use the muscles in your arms to turn a crank are you using energy? What could replace the hand crank? (fan blades and a resource like wind or water)



Natural Resource Stewards


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Explore More


How Electricity Works

Why HydroPower?

Hydro Power

Electric Generator


It's All Connected

Mike New, V.P., Canyon Hydro


Are you an alternative energy producer in Whatcom County interested in sharing your story? Contact the WSU Extension Office!

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WSU Whatcom County Extension, 1000 North Forest Street, Suite 201, Bellingham, WA 98225, (360) 778-5800, Contact Us