All Resources

Windsock

In this activity the students make a windsock to measure wind speed and direction.

Wind is air in motion.

Two ways we can measure the wind are speed, and direction: a windsock is a tool we can use to measure both. A windsock is a conical textile tube you may have seen at an airport or alongside a highway at a windy location.

Wind enters the windsock from one end and escapes out of the other. The latter end points in the opposite direction from where the wind originates. For example, a wind from the west will point a windsock to the east. 

You can also see the relative speed of the wind by observing the windsock's angle relative to its mounting pole. In low winds, the windsock droops and in high winds it flies horizontally

This activity is a part of The Air Up There, a unit made for Science World's Big Science for Little Hands program. They were developed and tested with Preschool and Kindergarten educators. 

The Air Up There printable guide.

Objectives

  • Create and use tools that measure wind speed and direction.

Materials

  • Per Student:
    1 piece construction paper (15cm x 45cm)
    tape or glue
    9 lengths (65cm) of coloured crepe paper
    markers, crayons, other decorations
    75cm string
    stapler
    compass (optional)

Key Questions

  • How does the windsock show the wind direction?
  • Which way will it be facing if the wind is coming from the east?
  • Which way will it be facing if the wind is coming from the south?
  • How does the windsock show the wind speed?
  • What will it look like when the wind is strong? Weak?
  • How might you improve your design (e.g. use waterproof materials)?

What To Do

  1. Decorate the construction paper.
  2. Flip it over and glue the streamers so they hang from the bottom edge of the paper.
  3. Roll it into a cylinder and glue or tape the ends together.
  4. Knot the piece of string at each end and staple the knots to the inside of the cylinder, at the top, to make a handle.
  5. Take the windsocks outside to test it out. Can you determine the wind direction (you can use a compass to determine the exact direction) and speed? (The higher the windsock is lifted, the greater the wind).
  6. Hang the windsock on a porch or patio where it will be protected from rain.

Teacher Tip: For younger classes, pre-cut all of the supplies and knot the string at each end.

Extensions

  • Explore more about wind including prevailing local winds, seasonal changes, and the Coriolis effect.

Other Resources

PBS KIDS | Peep and the big Wide World: Weather Factors