Lesson Plan

The Power Of Water

Interior of the Wilkinson Machine Shop
Interior of the Wilkinson Machine Shop

Slater Mill Historic Site

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Grade Level:
Ninth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Algebra, Commerce and Industry, Design, Engineering, Entrepreneurs, History, Hydrology, Inventions / Inventors, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Textiles
2-3 hours of classroom time
Group Size:
Up to 24
Blackstone River, Slater Mill, textiles, Mahcines, math, water wheeel, gears


This lesson will familiarize your students with the kind of power a water wheel can produce, and which variables affect the power output of a water wheel.  Secondly the students will see how and why the water wheel was used to power the Wilkinson Mill.  Finally the students will understand exactly how the water wheel powered the power train of the mill and the machines connected to the power train.


Students will be able to: ·       
Tell the differences of the different types of water wheels.        
Decide which water wheel would be the best for the Wilkinson mill      
Calculate how much power the Wilkinson Mill water wheel produced     
Calculate the horsepower produced by a water wheel.        
Know that the more distance water falls vertically, the more power it can produce.      
Learn how the revolutions of a water wheel affect the revolutions of the gears and leather belts that run the mill.      
Describe the functions of a mill pond and what problems a mill pond can cause.     
Describe the various parts of a mill, focusing especially on the function and parts of a water wheel and its mechanisms.      
Know how to use the following formula Horsepower = C* Q* H* E

Click here to see a short video
on the use of water power in the Blackstone Valley

Last updated: February 26, 2015