How to Make an Anemometer: An Ongoing Interactive Class Science Experiment

Anemometer’s are tools scientists use to measure wind speed. This activity allows students to build and create their own anemometer that mimics what scientists use. Students will be able to measure rotations (how many times a cup spins around) which will give them a visualization of when it is windy out or not. Your class will also enjoy building the tool and getting outside, especially in blustery weather, to measure the results.

Project Materials

Gather together the following items, based on how many anemometers you will be making:

  • 3 plastic white cups
  • 1 plastic red or black cup
  • 2 Strips of cardboard the same size
  • Scissors
  • Clay
  • Watch
  • Ruler
  • Stapler
  • Pin
  • Unsharpened pencil with eraser

Build Your Anemometer

Follow the steps below to make your very own anemometer:

  • Take your two equal cardboard slips and position them in to the shape of an X. Staple them together in the middle.
  • Position your cups so that they are all facing the same direction. Attach one to each of the four edges of the X you created out of your cardboard pieces. Staple them in place. Again, make sure all of the cups are facing the same direction. It doesn’t matter where you place the colored cup.
  • Place your pencil eraser side up to the middle of the X. Then push a pin through the top of the X in to the eraser of the pencil.
  • Create a stand for the anemometer out of clay. You will want to use enough of it to go around the pencil and hold the anemometer in place so that it doesn’t fall over when it’s blown around.
  • Blow in the cups to test them out. Make any adjustments if needed.

Measure the Wind

Use your new anemometer to understand and measure wind speed. You will need to measure both calm and windy days, over an extended period of time, so plan accordingly. You can either have the students build their anemometer and measure the weather at home, or you can divide students into teams as part of an ongoing class activity.

  • Place your anemometer outside on a windy day.
  • Get out a watch or timer and count how many times your colored cup spins around in 1 minute.
  • Record this information on a piece of paper.
  • Take your anemometer outside on a fair day.
  • Use a watch or timer to count how many times in 1 minute that the colored cup spins around.
  • Record this information on your paper.
  • Compare several days against each other. The days that the cup spun around the most were the days it was the windiest. The days the cup barely spun around were the days there was hardly any wind speed.

Summary & Grading

Reinforce with students how measuring the wind speed impacts our every day lives. Scientists use anemometers to categorize tropical storms and hurricanes based on wind speed, as well as warning residents of large wind gusts during more common weather occurrences such as thunderstorms and snowstorms. To grade the project, have each student or team turn in a report on their findings, or give an oral presentation to the class.