Observing wind and determine the direction
of where wind comes from
Determining the direction of wind.
Wind can be defined as "moving air." Windmills can be used for generating electricity or grinding grain or pumping water. Winds
push sailboats and windsurfers. The main reason we study wind is 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. The
direction of air movement, is in part, controlled by air pressure.
Warmer areas tend to have a low pressure (warmer air is less dense,
molecules are farther apart, hence low pressure) and cooler areas tend
to have high pressure (cooler are more dense or compact).
High pressure is usually associated with dry weather because as air
sinks and warms, water in the air will evaporated. Low pressure is
usually associated with moist weather because as air rises and cools,
water vapor tends to condense.
Ask students to describe wind. Is wind wet, gas, or solid?
Can wind push you down? Yes, if it is going fast enough.
Can wind cause damage? yes, if associated with a wind
storm like a tornado.
Wind is a a mystical thing and it was very difficult to
understand what it is. Early peopleuse to make
stories. You may want to use the following information to
tell a story. Winds come from different direction and
usually bring different types of weather.
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
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.
You always describe the directions by north, south, east or
west. So a West Wind is coming from the west.
students you are going to take them outside to find the
direction of the wind. If there is no wind then you should
be able to detect that by lack of movements. Before
you go outside practice with the students how to determine.
a. Wet Finger test. Wet
your finger (usually you lick the finger with your tongue) and
blow on it. It feels cool.
Give groups a small cup of dish detergent. Use a straw and
dip it into a soapy mixture. Blow into the straw and it creates
bubbles. Please note: This is
difficult for children, so go over it several times.
A trick is to put the straw into the liquid and put your finger
on top of the straw. This helps to put liquid on the tip
of the straw. Then blow quickly.
It you turn the pinwheel directly into the wind it will move, if
you do not, it will not spin. Have the students inside
make their own wind by either blow on it, or capturing the air
by moving the pinwheel. A "figure 8" motion is
perfect to create wind. Please note:
This is difficult if children have never used a pinwheel.
Go outside with students and find the wind direction with the
students by using their fingers, bubbles,
and 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. Have
the students observe which way the bubbles go. Discuss their
results to see if they agree on the wind direction.