Make an anemometer : Fizzics Education


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Make an anemometer

Make an anemometer

Follow FizzicsEd 150 Science Experiments:

You will need:

  • 4 plastic cups (we used 30mL biodegradable cups)
  • A sharp pencil
  • Two cardboard strips (at least 20 x 3cm each)
  • Stapler
  • A boxcutter & adult help
  • Thumbtack (optional)


Materials laid out on a desk - stapler, 4 cups, 2 cardboard strips, pencil, thumbtack & a Stanley knife

Form the two cardboard strips into a cross. Use at least two staples to join them together.

Optional: You can use the thumbtack to make a small hole through the middle of the cardboard strips.


Use the stapler to attach a plastic cup on the end of each strip of cardboard.

3 A cardboard cross with 4 plastic cups attached at the ends

Make sure that the plastic cups are all facing the same way.

4 A pencil pushed into the centre of a cardboard cross

Push the pencil into the centre of the cardboard cross.

5 A cardboard cross with 4 plastic cups attached, being supported by a pencil held by a hand

Take the anemometer out into a breeze and see if it spins!

Extra tip: Colour one of the cups so that you can count it every time it passes in front of you.

6 Fizzics Education making a cloud from liquid nitrogen and hot water at MAAS
7 Teacher showing how to do an experiment outside to a group of kids.

Online courses for teachers & parents

– Help students learn how science really works

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8 A man holding a soda can with tongs and a bunsen burner heating the can base

Get the Unit of Work on Pressure here!

  • Want to dive into air pressure?
  • It’s all about air pressure in many ways!

From how storms form to how planes fly, this unit covers many concepts about air pressure.

Includes cross-curricular teaching ideas, student quizzes, a sample marking rubric, scope & sequences & more

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What is going on?

The stronger the wind, the faster your anemometer moves!


In this design, the friction between the pencil and the cardboard strips does cause the anemometer to not spin as fast as it could. Can you design a better version? Share your ideas below!

Variables to investigate

More on variables here

  • Can you reduce the friction between the pencil and the cardboard?
  • What happens if you increase the cup size?

Measure the wind speed

  1. Measure the length of one cardboard arm that holds a cup.
    This is the radius of the circle that the cups travel around.
    A blue circle with a black line going fromthe centre to the edge of the circle. The blue edge of the circle is labelled 'circumference' and the black line is labelled 'radius'
  2.  Work out the circle circumference of the travelling cups by using the formula below:Circumference = 2 x Pi x radius  (where Pi = 3.14 as an approximation)
  3. Count the number of revolutions in one minute (rpm)
  4. Substitute your answers into the formula below to work out  the wind speed of your anemometer:Wind speed (km/hr) =  (rpm x circumference x 60 minutes) / 1000 meters

Worked example

Eg:     If an anemometer spins 90 times in 1 minute, and it has a measured  circumference of 1 metre…

Wind speed (km/hr)  = 90 rpm  x  1 meter  x  60 minutes / 1000 metres

= 5.4 km per hour

How can you measure wind speed without an anemometer?

The Beaufort scale is a way that you can roughly work out the wind speed based on what you can see happening in the environment around you.

A man with a glove above a liquid nitrogen vapour cloud

Learn more!


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