As we search for more renewable resources, wind education for children is going to become more important. Wind is a great source of energy, does no damage to the earth, is powerful enough to move vehicles, and can be harnessed in abundance.
Wind Education for Kids
Studying wind is actually really fascinating. For example, do you know what actually causes wind to blow? Did you know that wind generally blows in patterns across the earth? Perhaps even more importantly, by studying wind you can learn how to better harness it as a renewable energy source. Regardless of your reasons for studying air patterns and wind, education for children regarding wind, weather, and air can be both enlightening and fascinating. You can start by understanding a few basic concepts about wind.
What Makes Wind?
Since the earth is round, and has many different types of surfaces, the sun heats the earth unevenly. While warmer air rises, the cooler air rushes in to take its place. In essence, "wind" is the word we use to describe how air moves through the atmosphere.
When it comes to describing wind, scientists use several properties. They often describe wind in terms of its speed as well as the direction in which it is blowing. In addition, scientists have what's called the Beaufort Scale which rates and describes wind speeds on a scale of zero to twelve. Zero is calm with barely any wind while twelve is hurricane force winds. Also, some typical patterns of wind are named from the direction from which they blow. Therefore, an easterly blows from the east, a westerly from the west and so on. Understanding how winds are described by scientists will help you understand their patterns much better.
Did you know that when you look at the patterns of wind throughout the earth there is a definite pattern? The pattern is affected by the seasons as well as the earth's rotation and the geography of the land. It is a fairly consistent and predictable pattern. There are several words that you may have even heard that scientists use to describe these patterns.
- Doldrums-Near the equator the winds are very light. The sun heats the earth evenly, and consequently there is mostly just warm air. It used to be, before the time when sailboats used engines, that sailors needed the wind, and therefore sailing through the equator was difficult. This area is known as the doldrums. In English, the doldrums gives the impression that there's not a lot going on.
- Jet Streams-Jet streams are "rivers" of very quickly moving air high in the troposphere. The air in a jet stream moves about 185 miles per hour.
- The Coriolis Effect-You can't study wind education for children without understanding the Coriolis Effect. Basically, the Coriolis Effect describes how the rotation of the earth 'bends' the winds. If the earth did not spin, winds from the North Pole would blow straight down into the equator, and winds from the South Pole would blow straight up into the equator. However, since the earth spins, the Coriolis effect describes how winds from the North Pole are 'bent' to the right in the Northern Hemisphere, and winds from the South Pole are 'bent' to the left in the Southern Hemisphere.
For Further Study
Now that you know a little more about wind and how scientists describe wind activity, you may want to take your study a little further. Below are a few activities that will help you observe and study wind.
Build an Anemometer
An anemometer is an instrument that you use to measure wind speed and direction. You can build your own home anemometer and then study the wind in your backyard.
A windsock can be used to tell wind direction. Remember, wind is described by the direction from which it blows.
Resources for Additional Study
- The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm is a book about weather in general. However, the Magic School Bus series is one of the best series when it comes to teaching kids about science.
- Catch the Wind: All About Kites-What better way to teach kids about wind than to capture their fascination by flying kites? An excellent book that describes the scientific principles behind studying wind.
- Gusts and Gales: A Book About Wind--This book explains wind to early elementary students. However, even older children will find it highly informative.