Published May 10, 2020

Teaching Tuesdays: Wind Detectors

The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites may be currently closed due to COVID-19 – but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring some of the museum to you!

On Tuesdays, we’re bringing families tons of educational content that’s easy for parents and their kids to do at home with materials you likely have on hand.

This week, learn how to make your very own wind detector!

Wind is moving air caused by changes or differences in air pressure within our atmosphere. We describe wind by talking about direction and speed.

There are two scientific instruments to measure wind: a wind vane determines the direction wind is blowing, and an anemometer measures wind speed. A basic anemometer looks similar to a windmill or weather vane, with cups that catch the wind and spin. The speed that the wind makes the cups spin is what determines wind speed.



For this activity, you’ll want various types of materials to detect the wind. Examples could include:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Straws
  • Tape
  • Construction paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Copy paper
  • Ribbon
  • Yarn
  • Aluminum foil
  • Wax paper
  • Plastic bag
  • Fabric



1. Ask your child how they would try to determine if it’s windy outside. Encourage observations and ask how wind affects different things they see.

2. What materials do they know of that detect wind? Invite your child to create a device that can detect different types of winds – from a nice spring breeze to gale force winds.

3. Remind your child to think about how they want to secure the device. Do they want to hold it or attach it to something? What pieces will they use to detect a light wind or a strong gust of wind?

4. Let your child test their device by using a fan or going outside. Encourage them to make adjustments and improvements to their design.



During and after the activity, ask your child:

  • What do we have outside our home that moves with the wind?
  • What can we use every day to detect wind outside?
  • What worked about your design? What didn’t work?
  • What changes can you make so that it will work better?
  • What ideas do you want to try out next time?


Ready to continue exploring?