Path Head Watermill
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Path Head Watermill in Blaydon is fantastic!

I visited this year with a group from Waverley Primary School in Newcastle and we had a fabulous time. The waterwheel really works and powers machinery inside the mill building. There are ponds to store water, windmills, wheels, gears and all sorts of outdoor activities in the grounds.

The plan for the day was...

Arrive 10.00am

Outdoor science show ‘Water, Wind and the Weather’

Short break

Split up into two groups

  • Group A: Tour the site and see the watermill in action
  • Group B: Practical activity making a water powered novelty

Swap groups

Picnic lunch including sausages cooked on the amazing water and solar powered barbeque machine.

Practical activity 2 both groups together making wind turbines.

Final Science demonstrations and summing up.

Depart 2.30pm

The outdoor science show all set up and ready for the children to arrive


We set up the science show outside on the large grassed picnic area. When the children arrived they sat on a huge groundsheet because the grass was a little damp. The sun came out and shone all day which was fantastic because the weather was an important theme in the show and it was lovely to be able to do all of the demos outside -  the water demos which were a bit messy especially when we used jets of water to power a water turbine for generating electricity.

I hope to include more photographs of the show with the children from Waverley primary school in action asap.

The science show was in 3 main parts as follows...



The properties of water. Water as a liquid compared to solids and gases. Gravity and water flow. How water flows along pipes from reservoirs to our homes. The siphon. Water power and water wheels. Water turbines and making machines work. Water turbines and generators making electricity. Ice, water and steam.


The properties of gases and the composition of the air. Gases can flow and be compressed. Pressurizing a gas stores energy in it. Pressurized air can make things move eg. a balloon flies around or a windmill can turn. The wind is moving air made by pressure changes in our atmosphere which in turn are cased by heat from the sun.


Forms of energy: Heat, light, sound, motion or mechanical energy, Electricity, chemical energy and stored energy or potential energy. Energy can be stored in water in a reservoir up a hill and gravity pulls it downhill to make a waterwheel turn. Heat can be obtained from the sun using a ‘water solar panel’. Electricity can be obtained from sunlight using a PV (Photo Voltaic) solar panel.

These three areas of science were brought together at the end of the day in the summing up session when the most important principle was explained, ‘The Water Cycle’. Look out for photographs of this part - it was great fun!

The water and solar powered sausage barbeque


There is a water container (reservoir) up the tree and a water pipe leads down to the waterwheel with plastic cups all around the circumference. Water fills the cups one at a time and the waterwheel slowly turns. The axle of the waterwheel passes all the way through the machine from left to right and has some wire barbeque grills attached to it. These grills contain the sausages which are being cooked by the heat from normal barbeque charcoal. The sausages turn so they get cooked on both sides.

There is one additional feature. The water would all run out eventually and the reservoir would have to be refilled but there is a tray catching the water as it is emptied out of the cups. A water pump powered by electricity returns the water up the tree through a pipe and back into the reservoir. The electricity for the pump is made by a solar panel!

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Here you can see the water container up the tree. This is the reservoir. A tube leads down from the reservoir and is lined up with the cups near the top of the waterwheel. This is a siphon and it allows the water to flow steadily from the reservoir into the waterwheel cups.

The green tray isn’t in position yet but it catches the waste water as it empties from the waterwheel. In the tray is a water pump powered by electricity from the solar panel which you can see in the foreground. A pipi leads from the water pump and carries the water up the tree and back into the reservoir.


Click the picture below to see a short video showing the waterwheel in action

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