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How Windy Is It?

Make a wind gauge and measure wind speed around your neighborhood.

Goal: To recognize that the wind’s speed can be measured and compared to find the best place to get power from the wind. 

Time: 30 minutes to an hour

Space: Desk or table, plus different places outdoors to measure wind speeds


Optional Materials


Time: 30 minutes

  • Set up a workspace where your child can make his own Wind Gauge, with hole punch, scissors and glue stick.
  • Print the “Make a Wind Gauge” handout.
  • Cut string, 12 inches.
  • Locate different places to measure and compare wind speeds (different sides of a building, or sheltered and unsheltered spots in a park or other open area).
  • Optional: Print the 2-sided “Make a Pinwheel” handout. Practice making the pinwheel and Wind Gauge so you can show your child how to do it.
  • Optional:  Preview the episode or clip, and if using them with your child, cue up the videos via the links above.


  1. Review what your child knows about wind. Ask: What’s the windiest place you can imagine? (Top of a skyscraper, middle of the ocean, top of a mountain, etc.) Why is it so windy there? (Nothing to block the wind.) What are some different ways we use the wind’s energy? (To make electricity, push a sailboat, fly a kite, power a windmill or pinwheel, etc.)
  2. Share the goal of this activity. Ask: What are some ways we could measure the wind’s speed?
  3. Optional: Use the episode or clip to further explore this idea.
  4. Ask: What if we wanted to find the windiest place around here? What could we do? (Fly kites, let our hair blow, set up an anemometer, try a wind gauge like the one in the episode, etc.)
  5. Have your child follow the directions on the handout to make the Wind Gauge.
  6. Demonstrate how to use the Wind Gauge to measure the speed of the wind. Tell your child that when he’s outside he’ll need to figure out which way the wind is blowing from. Point the arrow on the card in that direction, and turn the card so the string hangs down and lines up with the 0. The wind will blow the string away from the 0, and your child should note which number on the Wind Gauge the string reaches. TIP: To find out which way the wind is blowing, hold a streamer into the wind. It will blow away from the source of the wind. Point the arrow on the Wind Gauge toward the source of the wind.
  7. Discuss your child’s findings. Where was the windiest place? Which places would be best for his pinwheel? Which places are the wind duds? Ask: Do you think you’d get the same results on another day? Why or why not?
  8. Optional: Assemble the pinwheel with your child and try it in the windiest place.

Take It Further

Share this activity’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Math  (STEM) connections and invite your child’s comments:

As scientists look for new energy sources, many favor windmills, which provide a “green” source of power. Engineers try to put up windmills in places where there is a steady wind, which is better than places where the wind sometimes blows hard and other times barely blows at all.

Talk About It

Ask: What did you learn today that you didn’t know before?

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Produced by: Funding is provided by:
WNET logo
Additional funding is provided by Lynne and Marc Benioff, the Tiger Baron Foundation, Shailaja and Umesh Nagarkatte and Ellen Marcus.
The JPB Foundation NSF Heising-Simons Foundation EY

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