Fábrica da Pólvora, Barcarena, Portugal Copyright©CM-Oeiras,Arquivo Online, 1990
Fábrica da Pólvora, Barcarena, Portugal Copyright©CM-Oeiras,Arquivo Online, 1990

The Fábrica da Pólvora de Barcarena (Gunpowder Factory of Barcarena) is located on the margins of the Barcarena’s creek, in the district of Oeiras, near Lisbon. This factory was born in the 17th century and suffered many changes along its decades of existence due to the development of times and the need (or not) to produce gunpowder. Initially, the Factory of Barcarena developed along the left creek’s side, but by the 19th century it started expanding into the right margin. In 1925 it was completed a hydroelectric system to produce electricity intended primarily to feed the mechanisms installed on the right margin, particularly four devices of cast iron constructed to give consistency to the gunpowder and to the devices for calibration and lustration.




Fábrica da Pólvora, Barcarena, Portugal Copyright©ISQ, LRamos, 2016
Fábrica da Pólvora, Barcarena, Portugal Copyright©ISQ, LRamos, 2016

Congratulations! You are at the final stage of the application to be the next guide of Fábrica da Pólvora. There are only two places left! Your technical knowledge is essential for this task because you will be responsible for the complex dedicated to the Hydroelectric and Diesel Power Plants. Your goal will be bringing a greater number of visitors to the museological space of the factory. To be successful, you must know well the complex and prepare a very appealing presentation to future visitors. However, you must first impress a panel of judges to get the job! Good luck!

Choose a partner and, together, work out a presentation for the panel of judges. The main task will be to identify the area of the Hydroelectric and Diesel power stations, understand their way of function explaining, at the same time, the basic principles of a dynamo, an electric motor and explaining the concepts of Direct Current and Alternating Current.

The presentation should be built in an attractive way, with a nice layout, and it should demonstrate not only technical expertise but also a lot of enthusiasm. Be creative and original. It's time to impress the public and become the next guide of the Gunpowder Factory of Barcarena!


Fábrica da Pólvora, Barcarena, Portugal Copyright©ISQ, LRamos, 2016
Fábrica da Pólvora, Barcarena, Portugal Copyright©ISQ, LRamos, 2016

Step 1 : Choose a working partner. Together, define who will be responsible for explaining the function of the Hydroelectric and who will do it for the Diesel Power Plants.

Step 2 : Prior to the visit, make a research on the internet about the Gunpowder Factory of Barcarena (Fábrica da Pólvora de Barcarena) and all the things that you can find there during the visit. You have a suggestion of hyperlinks at the links toolbar.

Step 3: Identify the mechanisms, structures or models that you should look for when you find yourself at the Gunpowder Factory (for ex. turbines, dynamos or generators, fuel pumps and electrical panels).

Step 4: Assuming that you will make a presentation to an expert panel, you should use enough images, diagrams and explain, as accurately as possible, the way of functioning of the mechanisms.

Step 5: Define with your trainer the day and time of the visit. Do not forget to take with your photographic and written record materials.

Step 6: Look carefully around the musicological space, take pictures, notes and put as many questions as you can to your guide, during the visit.

Step 7: Design the presentation with your partner in an appealing way, using several resources, such as images, videos or schemes created by you. Follow the idea of "less text vs more image". Do not forget to review the spelling and the formatting. Analyse the content from the accurately technical point of view. Your presentation should not exceed 14 minutes (about 7 minutes for each topic: Hydroelectric Central vs Diesel Central).

Step 8: Organise the presentation together with your partner: make a plan about who says what. You should work as one.

Step 9: Prepare yourself to answer as many questions as that the jury panel ask you. Be confident! You are well informed and everything will go fine!

Step 10: Submit your search to the panel of judges. Show enthusiasm for the information you are sharing. Do not forget that you are being evaluated and there’s the possibility for you to become the next guide of Gunpowder Factory of Barcarena!




Learning Outcomes

Knowledge acquired

  • Basic knowledge of alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC)
  • Basic knowledge of the principles and mechanisms of a hydroelectric power plant
  • Basic knowledge of the principles and mechanisms of a diesel power plant
  • Fundamental knowledge of team working and presentation skills
  • Fundamental knowledge of self and time management
  • Basic knowledge of how to use the Internet for research

Skills acquired

  • Identify the differences between AC and DC
  • Name/Explain the basic principles and mechanisms of a hydroelectric power plant
  • Explain the basic principles and mechanisms of a hydroelectric diesel plant
  • Collect information in the internet and select the one that is relevant for the task
  • Identify information that needs to be gathered in loco and prepare related questions
  • Plan the necessary steps to prepare a presentation with all the information gathered from the research
  • Prepare a presentation for a small audience

Competences acquired

  • Adapt own behaviour to the context and situation in order to maximize his/her contribute to the team’s performance
  • Demonstrate ability to organize
  • Demonstrate autonomy capacity (restricted) and initiative
  • Demonstrate active listening ability during the visit


To understand the present and to invent the future, you need to learn more about where we came from. A good way to start is to know what is behind certain principles, who are they, how they started - in a practical and concrete manner - and then think about them in an abstract way. After this exercise we hope that you are able to become an echo from the past, in the future.