Here in central Massachusetts we are experiencing the effects of Hurricane Sandy and at my house, we've been without power for a while, so I am a bit late posting this. Living through a hurricane is a windy experience. Rather than grumbling, let's have fun with all the extra wind!
Below are five ways to play with wind and learn a little science at the same time.
1. Make a pinwheel. This is is a fabulous activity for multiple ages. Check out Curious George's pinwheel template here. Sometimes I have trouble with pinwheels not spinning and the addition of a small spacer bead under the push pin can solve that problem.
2. Paint with air. Dilute some craft paint and put a few blobs on paper. Using a straw, blow the paint around the paper. If you blow hard does that change the pattern of paint compared to blowing softly? Does how close you are to the paint matter to the pattern?
3. What does the wind carry? Put a couple of holes in a piece of cardboard about the size of a piece of paper (8.5 x 11 in). Thread string through the holes and tie the cardboard to a tree or even hang from your porch so that it floats in the breeze. Smear petroleum jelly on one side to make it sticky. Leave the cardboard for a while and see what the wind carries by seeing what sticks to the cardboard.
4. What can the wind move? After the last couple of days I think most of us would say, there isn't much the wind can't move! Here let's gather a few objects like a feather, pom pom, a rock, cup, keys, yarn, etc. What do think can be moved by the wind? Make two piles: things that can be moved and things that can't. Now test them by blowing on them. Can the wind you make with your breath move the objects? Were you right in your predictions (guesses)?
5. Make a helicopter. While this isn't strictly about the wind, it does take air and a few principles of aerodynamics that are a bit beyond preschoolers. And best of all, it is fun to make and you can do some real science with them. First make a helicopter. The pattern is here. It is a great use for junk mail. Now launch the helicopter from a balcony, the stairs, or even standing on a chair. Safety first! What changes can you make to help your helicopter fly faster or straighter.