Make and Use a Wind Vane to determine Wind Direction
Knowing the direction of the wind is an important part of predicting weather because
wind brings us our weather. A wind vane, also called a weather vane, is a
tool for measuring wind direction and was probably one of the first weather instruments
ever used. To determine wind direction, a wind vane spins and points in the direction
from which the wind is coming and generally has two parts, or ends: one that is
usually shaped like an arrow and turns into the wind and one end that is wider so
that it catches the breeze. The arrow will point to the direction the wind is blowing
from so if it is pointing to the east, it means the wind is coming from the east.
Additionally, wind direction is where the wind is blowing from. Therefore a west
wind is blowing from the west. To use a wind vane, you must know where north, south
,east, and west are.
Make a Wind Vane
(if you already have a wind vane, you can skip to the
Use a Wind Vane to determine Wind Direction)
- Tag board or manila file folder
- Straight pin
- Pencil with a new eraser
- Plastic drinking straw
- Modeling clay
- Paper plate
The two photos below show the students from Mrs. Clarizio's fourth grade
class in Garfield, New Jersey attaching their wind vanes to model houses that
they constructed. Click on the picture to view a larger image.
- Cut out an arrow point 5cm long.
- Cut out an arrow tail 7cm long.
- Make 1cm cuts at the ends of each straw.
- Slide the arrow point and the arrow tail into the cuts in the straw.
- Push a straight pin through the middle of the straw and into the eraser
end of the pencil.
- Stick the sharp end of the pencil into a lump of modeling clay; this will
be your base.
- Mark north, south, east, and west on the paper plate
- Put the clay on a paper plate.
- Test out your Wind Vane: Blow on the vane and make sure that the arrow can
Use a Wind Vane to determine Wind
- Place the paper plate on a flat surface and put the wind vane on the plate.
- Use the compass to show the students where north is so that they can set
up their plates facing the right direction. If you have access to a blacktop
area, mark the compass points in chalk to make it easier for the students to
read the wind direction.
- Students will observe the vane. If it is very breezy, one student should
hold down the paper plate while another takes the direction reading. The arrow
will point to the direction the wind is blowing from.
- Check the direction on the paper plate.
Copyright © 2007 Stevens Institute of Technology,
Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education (CIESE) All Rights Reserved.