Bursts of Energy...
Wind Energy Activity: "Building an Anemometer"

Recommended grade levels: 4-6

Goal: Students will record the variation in wind speed over time.

Process skills: Collecting data, Hypothesizing, Making graphing and Measuring

Frameworks: Force and Motion

Materials: (per student group) one disposable plastic plate, stapler, one stick approximately 1" x 2", 24 inches long, one nail, four paper cups with handles and a stopwatch.

Teacher background information:
Today there is a growing interest in using the energy of the wind to generate electricity. For wind to be a dependable source of energy it must be steady and strong over long periods of time.

Before a wind generator is built, studies are made of how reliable the local winds are. In this activity, students will be able to conduct a similar study of the winds in their community.

Student groups will:
  1. Color one of the cups red, then staple the cups to the plastic plate by the handles. All the cups should face the same direction.
  2. Make a hole in the center of the plate large enough that the plate can spin on the nail. Insert the nail through the hole and pound the nail into the top of the stick.
  3. Place the stick in the ground outside.
  4. Use the red cup to count how many times the plate turns in the wind. Count the turns in one minute. Multiply by 60 to get the approximate speed per hour. Have students repeat this activity several times in a day, or each day for a week.


  1. Did the wind speed stay the same each day?
  2. How could wind speed be used to generate energy?
  3. Would this be a good site for a wind-powered electrical generator?


  1. Discuss how wind affects our life (e.g. as an energy source, the weather, or clothes on a laundry line).

    Language Arts
    1. Read a poem about wind to the class or have students write or find poems.
    2. Have students write about where they would build a wind generator. Is Nebraska a good area? Tell why.
    3. Have students describe the wind in writing.

    1. Have students graph the data.
    2. Have the students make up story problems involving wind speed. Have them exchange problems and solve.

Teacher resource:
Gardener, Robert & Webster, David, Science Projects about Weather
Gr. 4-6. A collection of 22 activities, organized into 7 chapters, that help students understand weather phenomena and forecasting. Each experiment is preceded by an introduction and a clear statement of purpose. Most experiments are done with materials that are readily available.
ISBN: 0-89490-533-3

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