Sci Fri: Wind currents

Welcome to Science Friday, part 3. Don your aviator scarf and shades; it might get a little windy.

It’s easy to study the wind with a child even though they can’t see it. The effects of air currents are super-fun and can be experimented with using anything lightweight: kites, balloons, fabric, water mist, tissue paper, feathers, hair, etc. Today we’re looking at natural helicopters and making some of our own. We’re also making normal balloons float.

Materials needed:
A maple tree in spring
This pdf file of the helicopter pattern *
Scissors
Someplace high to stand
A balloon
A vortex-type fan (we used a Honeywell HT-908)

First, we went outside to check out the kinds of helicopters on the maple tree. Ours aren’t quite ready to drop from the trees yet, but we picked a few off, looked closely at their shape and design, then threw them up in the air and also down from a 7 foot tower.

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Then we made our own paper helicopters and compared this design to the tree seed’s.

First, print and cut out the pattern pieces. Next, cut along the scissor lines. Folds 1, 2 and 3 get folded to the back and numbers 4 and 5 get folded in opposite directions from each other.

Drop from a high place and watch it whirl!

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You might already know that my favorite Vermont museum is the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. It’s an all-day event that we enjoy several times a year. Last time we went with my sister and her family and one of the attractions was the floating beach ball.

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We recreated this at home using a fan and a balloon. The only trick might be to find a fan that can tip up and create this kind of vortex. My boys love finding out what floats and what sinks in this air current. Adult supervision recommended. : )

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Here’s to some good old-fashioned windy fun. Happy Sci Fri to you!

*Original pattern courtesy of the Montshire Museum of Science.

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