Capturing the Wind: Building a LEGO Anemometer





Name of Activity Capturing the Wind: Building a LEGO Anemometer
Author STOMP
Keywords NXT, program, anemometer, data, data collection, axles, bushings, plates, rotation sensor
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will use their NXTs to build and program an anemometer that collects data.
Lesson Objectives: - To learn about methods of measuring and collecting weather data.
- To program using NXT software.
Materials Needed: NXT
Rotation sensor
plates (with holes)
thick paper/index cards/cups
tape/paper clips
Preparation and Set Up: Set up computers running MINDSTORMS.
Gather necessary materials.
Arrange students in groups of 2.
Distribute necessary materials.
  1. Have students build fan-like structure:
    1. Attach two plates in a ‘plus-sign’ design.  Be sure the holes line up where they cross!  Then take a bushing and attach it to the plates as shown.  Make sure the smooth edge faces up and the notched edge is touching the plate.
    2. Slide an axle through the plates and bushing.  It is a good idea to secure the plates with a second bushing.  Then slide the other end of the axle through a rotation sensor.  Use bushings to secure the sensor also.
    3. Use thick paper, index cards, or cups to create sails.  Tape or clip these to the plates.  Attach the rotation sensor to the RCX.  Make sure to plug the sensor into port 1.
  2. Have students write a program in investigator in ROBOLAB:
    1. Write a program in level 1 to record rotation sensor data for a certain length of time.
    2. Adjust sampling rate to a very small interval (decimal).
    3. Download and run the program to measure the speed of the fan blades as you blow on them or from outside in the wind.
  3. Have students upload and analyze the data:
    1. Upload the data to investigator.
    2. You will want to convert data from sixteenths of a rotation into full rotations. Use the compute tool to divide the data in the red bin by 16.
    3. Look and the chart and note trends. What happens when the wind blows harder? softer? How fast did the wind blow? How slow?
Extensions: Experiment with different types of arms to see what works best (different material for blades/longer blades/wider blades/narrower blades/angled blades/flat blades).
Once you’ve selected a type, try different sizes.
Reference 1

Making Weather Instruments





Name of Activity Making Weather Instruments
Author Ramona Gravesande
Keywords anemometer, thermometer, construct, weather, conditions, barometer, hygrometer, rain gauge
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will construct an anemometer and a thermometer.
Lesson Objectives: To teach students about weather and measuring weather conditions.
Materials Needed: Rubbing alcohol
Plastic bottles
Food coloring
Plastic straws
Modeling clay
4 small paper cups
2 cardboard strips per student
Pencils with erasers
Necessary Background A thermometer measures the air temperature. Thermometers are closed glass tubes containing alcohol or mercury. When air around the tube heats the liquid, the liquid expands and moves up the tube. A scale then shows what the actual temperature is. A barometer measures the air pressure. It tells whether or not the pressure is rising or falling. A rising barometer means sunny and dry conditions, while a falling barometer means stormy and wet conditions. A hygrometer measures the water vapor content in the air or the humidity. An anemometer is used to measures the speed of the wind. A rain gauge measure how much rain has fallen. There are different types that are grouped by how they operate: recording rain gauge, non recording rain gauge, and rain intensity gauge.

rain gauge

  1. Students first make a thermometer:
    1. fill a plastic bottle with equal parts of tap water and rubbing alcohol to about an eight to a quarter full.
    2. Add food coloring.
    3. Place a straw in the bottle and sue modeling class to seal the straw to the bottle so that the straw stays in place making sure it does not touch the bottom of the bottle.
    4. Have students place their hands on the bottle and observe what happens to the liquid in the straw.
  2. To make the anemometer:
    1. Cut the edges off of four paper cups to make them lighter.
    2. Color the outside of one cup with a pen.
    3. Take two strips of cardboard and cross them so they make a plus sign and staple them together.
    4. Use a ruler to draw lines across the cardboard and where the lines intersect is the center of the cross. Staple the cups to the end of the cardboard making sure they all face the same direction.
    5. Push a pin through the center of the cardboard and attach a pencil to the pin, sticking the eraser to the pin.
    6. Blow on the cups to make sure the cardboard spins freely.
Reference 1
Reference 2

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