Weathervanes are also known as wind vanes, since, when the wind changes directions, it generally brings a change in the weather. They are often seen on the tops of buildings because the wind isn’t affected by the numerous objects that are on the ground. It is possible to make a simple weather vane as a science project at school, as a yard decoration or cut a more sturdy design out of wood and mount it on a post or roof. The following is an ideal project for adults or kids to follow through with.
Making a Paper Wind Vane
- Cut a slit in each end of a drinking straw. Take a straight plastic drinking straw, and use scissors to cut a slit on each end. Make each slit about 1 cm (or 1/2 inch) long. This doesn’t need to be exact, so if you don’t have a ruler, just cut a small piece, about the width of the pink section of a fingernail.
- If you have a drinking straw with a bend in in, cut the bendy part off, then cut slits in the remaining straight section.
- Cut thick paper into a triangle and a square. Cut these from a manila folder, index cards, or thin cardboard such as posterboard or a cereal box. Make the triangle a wide “arrow” shape (isosceles), and keep it smaller than the square. If you have a ruler, make the arrow about 5 cm (2 in) long, and the square about 7 cm (2.75 in.) on each side.
- You can cut the square into a different shape as long as it is still larger than the arrow. You could also draw on them or add stickers for fun.
- Stick the paper triangle and square into the slots on the straw. Put the triangle on one end, so it makes a point like an arrow. Put the square into the other slot. If they slip out, add a little glue and lay the straw flat on a piece of scrap paper. Keep following the instructions below, and this wind vane arrow should be dry and stuck together by the time you need it again.
- Put down scrap paper or newspaper before using glue, to avoid spilling glue on the table.
Read More How to Make a Wind Vane
Making a Permanent Wind Vane
- Create a design for the arrow. Wind vane designs have two requirements: one side of the vane must have a larger surface area than the other, and you must be able to balance the vane. Both of these are easiest to accomplish if the vane is composed of a narrow stick with a decoration at each end, usually a pointing arrow at one end and a larger design at the other. Alternatively, purchase a wind vane design online or from a metalworker or woodcarver. Three-dimensional designs are not recommended unless you are an experienced craftsman, since the vane must be balanced from side-to-side as well as front-to-back.
- Cut the design from wood. Trace your design onto a flat piece of wood at least 5 cm (2 in) thick, using a lightweight but strong material such as balsa wood. Use a jigsaw or coping
- saw to cut out your design.
- Optionally, use sandpaper to smooth the edges of your design after cutting.
- Paint the design. Painting your wood will help preserve it from decay. Choose a color that will stand out against the sky and the roof, if you are mounting the wind vane in a high location.
- Optionally, decorate it with multiple colors of paint, letting each color dry before applying the next.
- Use a dowel and block of wood to create a base. Take a wooden block, heavier than the wind vane. This will be the base of the wind vane. Select a thick, sturdy dowel or rod, then drill a hole of the same size into the block. Fit the dowel into the hole, using wood glue to fix it in place.
Read More How to Make a Wind Vane
I love the detail and step by step instructions that are easy to follow. For those of you who prefer video this is a great one and sets it all out beautifully!
This is one of those educating projects that the kids will gain a lot of benefit from. The education includes a scientific approach as well as improving cognitive skills. Weathervanes have a really easy simple design, but in order to work as intended, they need to be intricately balanced on their rotating axis. They also need an unequal area on each side that the wind can blow against. Add to this the fact that, weathervanes must be located on the highest point of a structure, and away from other tall buildings or structures that may affect wind direction. Once all this has been achieved you can sit back and witness the instrument that helped run the life of our ancestors.