Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wind Fun for Kids - How Wind Works!

I really wanted to know something more about wind turbines since we live so close to so many. I know they are a clean, renewable source of energy. But how do they work? Where do they work best? How does wind work? (I also realized I know nothing about wind.) Why can't we have wind turbines all over the country? As I started doing some research into wind and wind turbines and wind farms I decided this would be a good time to do some fun activities with my boys to educate us all on wind! So hang on while I sweep you off your feet with our wind activities!!

I found this wonderful website on energy which I definitely plan on using to do more activities with the boys. We started off reading this story about Wendy and her wizard father and how she asks him to stop the wind. Without the wind, the world is a dark and cold place because the sun is gone. We need the sun to have wind! Then we discussed how hot air rises (like a hot air balloon) and cool air takes its place and makes wind. (Ha! So that's how wind works!) We broke out our globe and talked about different places where it may be windier than others; tops of mountains, along the ocean coast, etc. We even found the picture of windmills in the ocean! Very Cool!

The template at this site helped us to see hot air at work. This snake was a lot of fun! When you hold the snake over heat the hot air will make it slither. This candle really didn't produce enough heat so I held it over my gas stove. Sorry, no photo of that..I was afraid I'd catch my arm on fire trying to take a picture!!

Then the boys made pinwheels out of some card stock and pinned them to the eraser end of a pencil. (I decided later we should have glued each blade to the center of the pinwheel first. They would have worked better.)

Right after they cut the four "blades", before pinning them to the center, we tried blowing on it. Of course it didn't work. After pinning the blades to the center we blew again on it to see the difference. Then we discussed how this blade design "catches" the wind. At this point we did a little experiment. I showed them a picture of an "egg-beater" windmill and other older types of windmills. I then asked the boys to try to change their pinwheel to make it work better. This was fun because they attacked this idea with gusto. They flattened, bent and cut the blades with some interesting results. We also tried designs from a circle and a triangle to make the pinwheel.

This has been a lot of fun with some great visuals of just how wind energy works. The boys have been creating pinwheels, (and a mess of scrap paper on the kitchen floor). Maybe next will be a field trip to the base of a windmill. Of course, I'm not sure what we'll learn there except they are really, really big!! And maybe that trespassing is against the law. Now that I'm thinking about it a field trip to a windmill probably shouldn't be a spur of the moment decision. What do you think?

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