Science Activity

What You Need

  • two heavyweight paper plates
  • crayon or a colored marker
  • ruler
  • pointed scissors
  • clay
  • small stones
  • tape
  • unsharpened pencil with an eraser
  • 4-inch piece of yarn
  • straight drinking straw
  • oak tag
  • straight pin

What to Do

  1. On the bottom of one of the plates, use a ruler to draw two lines perpendicular to each other. The lines should cross in the center of the plate. Then, going in a clockwise direction, mark N, E, S, and W at the ends of the lines.
  2. With the point of a scissors, punch a hole in the center of the plate. (You may want to do this for students.)
  3. Place a small mound of clay in the center of the other plate. Surround the clay with a few small stones. Then place the first plate upside down on top of the plate holding the clay, and tape the edges of the plates together. (See diagram.)
  4. Push the pencil through the hole and set its end into the clay. The pencil's eraser should be at the top.
  5. Tape one end of the yarn to the pencil, about 2 inches down from the eraser. (This will help you see the direction the wind is blowing.)
  6. Cut two triangles, about 1 inch on each side, from oak tag. Cut a slit in each end of the straw and push one triangle into each slit. Tape the triangles in place.
  7. Push the pin through the straw halfway along its length and press the pin into the pencil eraser.
  8. Put the wind vane on a flat surface outside. Use a compass to find north, and position the wind vane with the “N” pointing north. If you don't have a compass, there is an easy trick to find north.
homemade wind vane graphic