Water Cycle - Weather (K)

  • Observing wind.
  • Determining the direction of wind.
  • anemometer
  • wind vane
  • wind
  • pinwheels
  • soapy water, straws
  • anemometer and wind vane

Students experiment with the wind.


Wind can be defined as "moving air." Windmills can be used for things like generating electricity or grinding grain or pumping water. Winds push sailboats and windsurfers. The main reason we study winds is because of their importance in weather. Prevailing winds from the sea, like monsoons, carry rain, and winds from the desert bring heat. Strong winds can cause a lot of damage. Large cyclonic storms are called hurricanes in the Atlantic, typhoons in the Pacific, cyclones around India and willy-willies in Australia.

Winds are normally described by speed and direction. Wind speed may be described in miles per hour, which is measured with an anemometer. Wind causes the arms to rotate, and their speed can be measured.

Ancient people had many beliefs about the winds. The ancient Greeks thought that the winds were the children of the sky and the Earth. Unfortunately, the winds were very unruly, so Zeus decided that they needed a dependable guardian. He chose Aeolus, who kept them in a hollow cliff far out to sea. When one of the gods called for a wind, Aeolus would punch a hole in the cliff wall with his spear. Then he plugged up the hole until it was time for the wind to return. The North Wind was ice and wild. The South Wind dripped water from his beard, and would spread fogs that the sailors would get lost in Zephyr, the West Wind. Zephyr was gentle wind. He would clear the sky of clouds and give beautiful weather.

  1.  Let the students help you define wind when you introduce the subject. Go over the uses of wind, by showing pictures. In the picture below, the wind is coming from the west. Describe a wind storm. Discuss how to find the direction of the wind by wetting a finger and holding it up or by watching the direction of a kite, pinwheel or bubbles.







  1. Go outside with students and find the wind direction with the students by using their fingers, with a wind vane, with bubbles, and with pinwheels. Most students are not aware how to find out where the wind is coming from. The name of the wind refers to the direction its coming from. A west wind moves west to east. If you have an anemometer show the students how it works. Students can make bubbles by using a straw and put a little soapy water and blow softly. (You may want to do this exercise after milk time, and have the students save their straws.) Have the students observe which way the bubbles go. Discuss their results to see if they agree on the wind direction.
  2. You may want to make an anemometer to show how you measure the speed of the wind. The directions below are for an inexpensive way to show the basic principles. It is not scientifically accurate.


An anemometer measures the air speed by observing the physical effects associated with air motion. The most common anemometer utilizes the drifting of an object in air such as the rotating cup. The rotating cup anemometer consists essentially of 3 or 4 cups, hemispherical or bluntly conical, placed at the ends of light arms arranged like spokes of a wheel around a rotating stick. The useful range of a standard cup anemometer is about 5-100 mph. As the anemometer rotates in the wind, the number of rotations can be mathematically calibrated to give the miles per hour of the wind.
MATERIALS: 3 or 4 conical cups (ice cream type), straws or thin strips of wood, post (wood or plastic), pins, nails, hammer, glue

  1. You may want to make a wind vane to show how easy it is to make.


MATERIALS: modeling clay, carton (large styrofoam cup), pencil with eraser, pin, straw, card, sticky tape

  1. Make a hole in the middle of the bottom of the carton and push the pencil into the hole.
  2. Fix the carton to the thick card with modeling clay.
  3. Cut two small triangles of thin card and fix one in each end of the straw.
  4. Push the pin through the middle of the straw and into the eraser.
  5. Put the wind vane on a flat surface outside. Use a compass to mark north, south, east, and west on the carton.


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