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Lesson 7: Schoolyard/Backyard Wind Walk

 

Objectives: After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

        build a simple portable wind vane

        identify locations on a schoolyard map

        record wind directions on a map using a simplified weather symbol

        draw a simple map of their neighborhood

        infer patterns in local winds

 

Key Question: What patterns can we find in the direction of the wind?

 

Overview: Your students can make a very sensitive wind vane with card stock and straw, a pin, a wooden pencil, and a little bit of clay for balance. After students build their wind vanes, they take them out on the schoolyard along with a school map. They record wind direction on the map at the places where they stand to hold their vanes. When they return to class, they transfer individual readings onto a projected transparency of the school map. The teacher guides the discussion toward the idea of a prevailing wind and also variations in the wind caused by local obstacles. I like to repeat this activity a few times: at the beginning of a winter storm, and just after it clears. Bay Area storms usually begin with a southwesterly wind and end with the wind in the West or Northwest.

 

To extend the concept of prevailing wind direction and its variations, students take their wind vanes home, make a simple map of their immediate neighborhood, and record wind directions at 5 or 6 locations for oral presentation to the class.

 

Time Required: 2x50 min (two class periods) plus 30-40 minutes to review homework in class

 

Materials:

        straws index cards

        straight pins wooden pencils

        small amount of clay for balance tape

        scissors photocopies of school map

        (optional for discussion) Prentice Hall transparencies: #60 Global Winds; #66 Clouds and Winds in a Hurricane

 

Procedure: See appendix: Wind Vane Instructions

 

Assessment: Major assessment is the home wind maps students produce at the end of the lesson. See the rubric on the assignment sheet. The earlier schoolyard maps give the teacher a chance to correct errors in recording wind direction, as well as promoting a class discussion on prevailing wind and the effect of local obstacles.

 

OUSD Science Content Standards (State of California Science Content Standards):

4a, 4d, 7b, 7h, 7f

 

Notes: You can obtain a chart of wind strength and direction over the entire Bay Area at http://sfports.wr.usgs.gov/wind/. This chart is updated every hour. I usually make one copy for each group of four students and have them answer a simple set of questions, orally or in writing. I have appended a sample chart and a sample set of questions. You can modify the questions depending on what the current chart shows.

 

Appendices: Wind Vane Instructions ; Example of Schoolyard Wind Recording ; Home Wind Map Assignment Sheet ; Real Time Bay Area Wind Map ; Real Time Bay Area Wind Map Questions