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This lesson introduces students to the use of flowing or falling water (hydropower) to perform work, particularly electric power generation. Topics include the history of hydropower development, the invention of turbines and electric generators, and the history of hydroelectric power development in the United States. There is also discussion of the environmental issues associated with the construction of large dams and flooding large tracts of land, as well as some of the physics involved in the transfer of energy from moving water to a mechanical device such as a turbine. The lesson includes an activity in which students use a model turbine and generator and vary the height from which water flows into them to examine how energy output and efficiency varies.
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