Weather Station
Make a Wind Vane to Measure Wind Direction

From a light breeze on a hot day to a violent hurricane, wind plays an important role in our weather. No matter where it happens, wind is caused by changes in temperature and air pressure.

Meteorologists study the strength and the direction of wind. One tool they use for measuring wind direction is a wind vane. It spins and points in the direction from which the wind is blowing.

The wind can blow in every direction, but in many places most winds will blow in the same general direction. Make a tool that you can use to find out what direction the winds usually blow in your area.


What You'll Need

The Materials
  • Paper plate
  • Marker
  • Compass
  • Printout of wind vane cutouts (PDF)
  • Cardboard or folder
  • Straight pin
  • Scissors
  • Clear tape
  • Sharpened pencil with a new eraser
  • Plastic drinking straw
  • Modeling clay
  • Printout of your Weather Chart

What To Do

Part 1: Make Your Wind Vane
1

Use a marker to draw a line down the middle of your paper plate. Then draw a second line across the middle of the plate, running in the opposite direction.

Use a marker to draw a line  down the middle of your paper  plate. Then draw a second  line across the middle of the  plate, running in the opposite  direction.
2

At the edge of the plate, label the four lines: north (N), south (S), east (E), and west (W). South is opposite of north; east is the the right of north; west is left of north.

3

Cut out the wind vane shapes from the printout. Trace the shapes on your cardboard or folder and cut out the shapes with scissors.

Cut out the wind vane shapes  from the printout. Trace the  shapes on your cardboard or  folder and cut out the shapes  with scissors. Cut out the wind vane shapes  from the printout. Trace the  shapes on your cardboard or  folder and cut out the shapes  with scissors.
4

Cut two 1/2-inch slits, directly across from each other, into one end of the straw.

Cut two 1/2-inch slits, directly  across from each other, into  one end of the straw.
5

Slide the arrow point into the cut straw.

6Cut slits on the other end of  the straw, making sure the  new slits match up with the  ones on the other side. It is  important that the arrow  point and arrow tail are at  the same angle.

Cut slits on the other end of the straw, making sure the new slits match up with the ones on the other side. It is important that the arrow point and arrow tail are at the same angle.

7

Slide the arrow tail into the cut.

8

Use small pieces of tape to keep the arrow point and tail in place.

9

Attach a lump of modeling clay to the center of your paper plate where the two lines meet. This is the base of your wind vane.

Attach a lump of modeling  clay to the center of your  paper plate where the two lines meet. This is the base  of your wind vane.

Stick the sharp end of the pencil into the lump of clay so that the pencil stands straight up.

11

To attach the straw to the pencil, first hold the straw above the pencil, making sure that the arrow point and tail are flat towards you.

12

You may need an adult to help you here. Push a straight pin through the middle of the straw. Then stick it into the middle of the pencil's eraser.

You may need an adult to  help you here.  Push a  straight pin through the  middle of the straw. Then  stick it into the middle of  the pencil's eraser.
13

Blow on the vane to make sure that the arrow can spin freely.

Blow on the vane to make  sure that the arrow can  spin freely.
Part 2: Measure Wind Direction
14

Take your wind vane outside and place it in an open area. Place the compass in the center of your paper plate. Turn your plate so that line labeled N matches up with the compass arrow pointing north. What direction is the wind blowing?

(Remember: The arrow points in the direction the wind is blowing from. So if your wind vane is pointing north, the wind is actually blowing south.)

Take your wind vane outside and place it in  an open area. Place the compass in the center  of your paper plate. Turn your plate  so that line labeled N  matches up with  the compass arrow  pointing north. What direction is the wind blowing?
15

Record the date and results in your Weather Chart.