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Measuring The Wind

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Updated on May 03, 2013

Land heats up when the sun shines on it. The land then transfers some of its heat to the air above it. When air is heated, the air molecules move faster and take up more space. The same volume of air now weighs less, and the warm air rises. Cooler air then moves in and takes its place. The movement of warm and cool air produces wind.

Wind speed usually is greatest high above the ground. It also travels rapidly in open areas. You may also have observed that wind speeds are usually highest on the top of rounded hills, in open areas, at shorelines, and on mountain passes.

This project encourages the student to look for correlations between wind speed, temperature, and time of day in order to come up with an explanation about the origin of wind.

The goal is to have the student use the scientific method to reach a conclusion about the relationship between wind speed, temperature and time of day.


What is the relationship between temperature, time of day, and the wind?


  • Materials to construct the anemometer (five Dixie cups, two straws, a pin, scissors, a paper punch, a stapler), a thermometer, pencil and paper, and a calculator.
  • Materials can be found at home (or a Wal-Mart-type store)


  1. Measure the wind speed everyday in a location that is often windy for three weeks. Make the measurement in the morning, at mid-day, and at dusk.
  2. Record the temperature each time you make a measurement.
  3. Calculate the average wind speed and temperature for each time of day you made the measurement.
Dr. Frost has been preparing curriculum materials for middle and high school students since 1995. After completing graduate work in materials science at the University of Virginia, he held a postdoctoral fellowship in chemistry at Stanford. He is the author of The Globalization of Trade, an introduction to the economics of globalization for young readers.