What Is Wind?

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SWBAT identify what causes the wind to blow and how it can change intensity.

Big Idea

Students need to understand what wind is before they can understand how the force of wind can change the shape of the land.

Teacher Background

Background information on wind. (Also check out: http://www.weatherwizkids.com/weather-wind.htm for further information for kids about wind.)

Wind is a movement of air produced by the uneven heating of the earth's surface by the sun, or moved artificially. Wind on the surface of the earth consists of a movement of air. Wind is usually talked about in terms of the strength and direction of the wind. Winds can be referred to as breezes, gales, storms, hurricanes and typhoons, squalls or gusts depending on the duration of the wind and its strength. The main causes of wind are differential heating between the equator and the poles, and the rotation of the planet. 

In this lesson students will create a wind gauge and use it outside and inside with a fan to gather wind data. Having a background understanding of what wind is will help teachers to answer student questions. The purpose of the lesson is to introduce to students what causes wind and how it can be measured so that in a future lesson students can have a better understanding of how wind can change the face of our earth. 

I Can Statement

5 minutes

I ask students to read today's I Can Statement with me. We read, "I can build a wind gauge and test the wind speed inside and outside."

I ask students,"do know what the word gauge means?" I take volunteer suggestions and then together we try to make a definition that we can all understand. 

I say, "we will talk today about the wind and then see if we can measure if the wind is always the same."

What is Wind?

10 minutes

I invite students to the rug for a TQL session. I ask, "what do we need to remember when we share together about what we know?" (to accept everyone's ideas, to not comment on if it is a good or bad idea, to give everyone a chance to share). "So I would like you to have you tell me what you think you know about wind (the T). We will take questions after we list all that we think we know."

I give students a chance to share all their thoughts about wind. See TQL - What We Think We Know About Wind. I expect them to tell me about how wind blows, it can be cold, it blows at the beach, etc. This is a chance for me to look at any misconceptions that students may have about wind, such as wind comes from clouds or wind is in trees, etc. If I gather information about what students already know about wind, I can be sure to address misconceptions during the lesson.

Next I say, "do you have any Questions About Wind?"  I record the questions on the TQL chart. I hope to address the questions during the next few lessons. 

Building A Wind Gauge

30 minutes

"Today we are going to build a wind gauge to see if we can feel the wind. You have told me that you can't see wind but you can feel it so we are going to see if we can find wind outside."

I have chosen a wind gauge over a pinwheel or kite because I want students to be able to informally measure the force of the wind so we can compare how outdoor wind and air from a fan may be different. The NGSS want second graders to understand that wind can change the face of a landform, either quickly or slowly over time. Understanding that wind is a force that can be measured needs to come before understanding how wind may change the face of the land slowly, (such as with gentle but constant winds, or quickly, such as with storm force winds.)

I ask students to take out their buddy wheel and we draw a card to find partners. Now I ask 1 person from each partnership to come and get 4 tagboard strips that are 1 inch wide and 12 inches long, 1 each of 2 different colored small (bathroom size) paper cups, 1 new pencil not sharpened, 1 push pin and 1 large paper cup filled with sand. "When you have your materials, please find a work station and wait for directions." 

(It is important that the tagboard strips are heavy enough to hold the cups without folding up. You can use wooden dowels but then you will need to put a nail through the center for each child.)

I hand each group a lab sheet with directions. See windgauge.pdf. I say, "you will follow the directions to build yourself a wind gauge. I will demonstrate first and then you will build your own." I show gluing 2 strips of tag board together to make them stronger. Next I measure to find the 6 inch point on each one and put a dot there. I make a cross of the 2 strips and put a piece of tape around the 2 strips to hold them crossed. I push the pin through the center dot. Next I tape the 2 cups on opposite ends of 1 of the strips so they are facing the same way. I put the pin into the eraser of the pencil and stand the pencil up in the cup of sand. 

I let students read the directions and build their gauge. See Building the Wind Gauge. I circulate around to help those who are having trouble. 


Using The Wind Gauge Outside

15 minutes

I say to students, "you are all very excited by the wind gauges you have built and now we will take them outside to see if we can find the wind. You will set your gauge outside and count how many times the colored cup goes around while your partner counts to 60. You will record your data on the wind gauge chart and then we will move to a different place and record again."

Before we go outside I demonstrate how the gauge turns by using a fan on low and I keep track of  the one colored cup as it passes me as the students count to 60. I count how many times the cup passes me and record it on the board.

I say, "Outside the wind will turn the gauge. You will just set it on the ground and then wait to see if the wind can turn your gauge." I ask for questions. Clarify any confusions and then we proceed outside to set our wind gauges on the top of the hill behind the school. (I choose a windy day for this process so the students can see the gauge work.) After we record the wind "speed" in the first location, we move to 2 others. One is more sheltered and one a wide open field. 

We return inside to look at our data. 

Reviewing Our Data

15 minutes

I ask students to set their wind gauges on the table and sit with their partners so they can see the Smart Board.

I say, "lets look at what we found outside. Do you think we will all have the exact same numbers? Why or why not?" (our gauges may be slightly different, we may have counted differently, etc.) "I will ask you to give me your speeds for each location and I will record them on our chart." We go around the room and record the speeds so everyone can look at the speeds and compare them.

"What do you notice about the wind speeds?" (They are different but close. The numbers are not very high. Some of them are the same.)

"Wind is often labeled by how strong it is. Can you think of any names for wind?" (breeze, hurricane, gusts, storm). "What kind of wind do you think we measured today?" (breeze)

"Is there a way we could use the fan to help us figure out if we measured a strong wind or a gentle breeze?" 

Here I want students to suggest using the speeds of the fan to compare our numbers to the fast and slow numbers we might get from measuring the high and low fan speeds.  I will encourage them to create an experiment where they measure the speeds of the fan to wind speed on their gauges and then compare this to the numbers we found outside. 

We carry out the experimental design the students create and then look at our numbers to decide if the wind outside was strong or weak. 

Defining Wind

10 minutes

"You have carried out a good investigation. You were good scientists when you tried to measure wind. We have not really talked about how our world plays a role in wind. We will talk more about where winds come from in a later lesson, but today I hope you have a better of idea of what wind is. 

I am going to give you a paper wind assessment with a list of things that might or might not be about wind. I want you to check off the ones that you think have to do with the wind."

This is an assessment of their understanding of what wind is. I want to see if students are a little clearer on what wind is before we research what wind can do.

We finish today by reading the I can statement together. I also ask students if they have any final thoughts or comments about today's experiments and about wind.

It is important to give students a chance to debrief before ending the lesson. They may have questions, thoughts or comments that they need to share before moving on to something different.