How to Build An Anemometer – Science Fair Project

Build your own anemometer using paper cups and straws and measure the speed of wind. Interesting science fair project for middle school students.

In this article – you will find easy to do DIY Anemometer using just paper cups and straws. Before we jump in to the building steps, lets learn a bit about Anemometer.

What is an Anemometer?

An anemometer is an instrument that is used to measure the speed of the wind. It’s also used to determine the pressure and direction of the wind.

Leon Battista Alberti invented the anemometer in 1450. Although the instrument’s design was further developed, the basic principles and fundamental design remained the same.

Today, there are different types of anemometers. In this guide, you’ll learn what an anemometer means, what it’s used for, and how to build one for yourself.

Some Uses of the anemometer includes..

  • It’s used to measure the flow of the wind.
  • Skydivers use it to evaluate the velocity of the wind before leaping into the abyss.
  • Anemometer is used to measure airspeed in aerodynamics.
  • Pilots, weather stations, engineers, climatologists, and other experts use anemometers in their work.

Types Of Anemometers

There are different types of anemometers with different designs that are used for measuring wind and airspeed. The most popular anemometer types include;

  • Cup anemometer
  • Vane Anemometers
  • Thermal Anemometers
  • Hot-Wired Anemometers
  • Laser Doppler Anemometers
  • Sonic Anemometer
  • Plate Anemometers
  • Tube Anemometers

In this guide, we’ll learn how to build a cup anemometer.

The Cup Anemometer

How to make an anemometer

Also known as the Robinson anemometer is a simple type of anemometer device made with cups. It consists of four cups mounted on various ends of horizontal arms, which are mounted at equal angles on a vertical shaft.

The way the cups are positioned makes it possible for air to pass them, making the cups rotate, such that the speed of the rotation is proportional to the speed of the wind. The stronger the force of the wind, the faster the cup will rotate.

When you calculate the cup’s rotation over a specific period, it gives you the average speed used by researchers, meteorologists, and other professionals for various purposes.

How to Build An Anemometer

You can build your anemometer to measure wind speed around you by simply assembling some basic materials. 

Here are the items you will need to make the Robinson Anemometer.

Materials Required

  • 5 small disposable cups
  • Thick cardboard
  • 2 straws
  • Pencil
  • Pin
  • Nail
  • Hole punch
  • Glue
  • Pencil
  • Compass
Materials Required for Anemometer

Steps To Build An Anemometer

Step 1. Make the Anemometer Stand

We will use cardboard to make the anemometer stand. Layout the cardboard cut a square piece. If the cardboard is thin – use two or three pieces of the cardboard.

So now you have two square cardboards for the anemometer stand. Apply glue to one part of the cardboard cutout and carefully glue both cutouts together.

To beautify it, use a wrapper to wrap the edges.

Step 2. Making Holes in the Cup

So you have 5 cups. The fifth cup will be the centre of the anemometer, while the others will be used for the arms. You only need to create holes in the fifth cup. You have to create four holes at the edge of the cup for the straws to pass through.

Make a hole  in paper cups

Get the cup and mark the hole areas with a pencil (the secret is to mark it like a perfect cross). Use the hole maker to punch all four holes on the cup.

Next, turn the cup upside down and punch a hole at the bottom using a nail. The hole should be at the centre and big enough so the pencil can freely pass through.

Step 3. Assemble the Anemometer

Insert Straw to paper cups

First, pass both straws through the holes on the cup. You should have four straws arms sticking out.

Now get the stand and the pencil. Use the nail to create a hole at the centre of the cardboard stand.

Attach the pencil to the stand through the hole created and applied gum to hold it down.

Attach Anemometer

Once that dries, insert the cup with straws on the pencil. Pass the pencil through the hole under the cup until it’s underneath both straws. Then use the pin to hold the straws to the pencil.

If you followed the steps, the cup should spin freely when you rotate it.

Pate the cups to straw

The next step is to glue the remaining four cups to each of the four straw arms. Get the first cup and lay it in a fallen position. Apply glue at the centre and glue it to the edge of one of the arms.

Do this for all four cups and arms, allowing each one to hold properly before moving to the next.

Anemometer Projects for kids

Once it all dries, then you have successfully built yourself an anemometer.

DIY Anemometer For Kids

How to use Your Anemometer

Now that you have an anemometer, here are some ways you can use it.

  • Measure the fan’s speed: you can place the anemometer close to a fan to measure the fan’s speed. It is where the stopwatch comes in. You can count how many times the anemometer rotates within a minute and so on.
  • Measure the speed of the wind outside your home. Take the anemometer outside and place it in an open area where the wind can reach it. Then count as it rotates to determine the wind speed.
  • Visit the park: On a windless day, you can take it to the park and hold it to see how many times it spins in 30 seconds or so.
  • Collect data: you can use your anemometer to collect data to compare the wind’s speed at various times of the day or different days.
  • Predict changing weather pattern: with your anemometer, you can track the changes in wind speed, which can indicate a change in the weather conditions. So you can predict when it’s about to get cloudy, snowy, or rainy.

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