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Several kinds of instruments can be made to indicate wind

a. Cut a notch about 1 inch deep in each end of a piece of
wood one foot long. Cut a small arrowhead and a large
tail piece from an aluminum pie pan. Insert the arrow-
head and the tail piece into the notches, and nail them
in place. Find the point along the stick where the stick
is balanced, then drill a hole at that spot just large
enough for a small test tube or medicine dropper tubing
to fit through.

The medicine dropper tubing can be prepared by holding
the dropper by the rubber bulb, placing the tip of the
dropper in a flame, and rotating it slowly until the
opening is completely closed and rounded. When the glass
is cool, remove the rubber, and insert the tubing through
the wood. You might need to use some friction tape to
keep the wood from slipping off the tubing.

Now bend a coat hanger to form a bracket, and mount the
wind vane on a post of fence where winds blowing from
many directions will strike it. Be sure to note that the
arrow points in the direction from which the wind comes.

b. The wind sock is another instrument that is used at
airports as a wind direction indicator. A wind sock can
be made by bending a section of light wire into a circle
and attaching some thin cloth to it. It can then be
attached to a stick with strings and placed outdoors
where the wind will blow freely into it.

(Wind socks are quite popular for ourdoor patio hangings,
and they can be purchased in stores where they sell stuff
for barbecues.)

Winds are named for the direction from which they come (e.g.,
a north wind comes from the north, and the arrow will point

Use a compass to determine from which direction the winds


The lower part of a moving air mass is usually obstructed and
influenced by trees, houses, and other objects; thus, wind
vanes, which are usually near the ground, do not always
indicate the true direction of the wind.

To observe movement higher in the atmosphere, glue a round
mirror to a piece of cardboard, and mark the points of the
compass around the mirror. Paste a small paper circle about
the size of a dime in the center of the mirror.

Set the cardboard on a level spot outdoors with the N on the
cardboard pointing north -- a compass can be used to orient
the mirror. Look down into the mirror. When you see a cloud
passing over the dime-sized circle, follow it with your eyes
until it reaches the edge of the mirror.

At that point you will see a wind direction indicated on the
cardboard. This is the direction toward which the wind is

Use a commercial or homemade wind vane or nephoscope, and
record the wind direction at the same times twice a day for a
five-day period. Note whether there seems to be any connec-
tion between the direction of the wind and the kind of
weather that follows.

Why is wind direction important? Do winds from different
directions bring different kinds of weather?

Why else is wind direction important? Why would it make any
difference to an airplane pilot? Why would it matter to a
farmer? Why would a pirate care?

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