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Age Range: 7-11 | 5-7
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • Engineering
  • Science

Hero engine

A project to make a water powered ‘hero’ rotary engine.

This activity introduces the concept of force and motion and energy transfer through the making of a rotary water-powered ‘hero’ engine.

This resource focusses on a water-powered ‘hero’ rotary engine, which converts water pressure to rotary motion. Devices of this type, called aeolipiles, were described by the mathematician Hero of Alexandria around 2100 years ago. These operated on the same principle but used water that was heated to make steam, rather than just water pressure.

You will need:

  • Empty plastic one litre bottles
  • String or thread
  • Sticky tack
  • Drinking straws
  • Felt tipped pens
  • Scissors
  • Rulers
  • Sharp point, such as a bradawl, large needle or metal skewer
  • Stopwatch (for extension activity).

Please do share your learning highlights and final creations with us on social media @IETeducation or send them via email to to be featured in our online gallery.

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