The breezy and beautiful days of August could mean flying kites, blowing bubbles, or watching a pinwheel spin! This week, while supplies last, we invite you to make a fun pinwheel! Please stop by the Library’s Grab-and-Go craft clothesline (on the west side of the building between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.) or come into the Library during browsing hours to take a kit from the Youth Services desk (please follow all Library guidelines, including limiting your visit to one adult per household and wearing a mask at all times).

Get the instructions.

Your child can create a colorful pinwheel at home using the materials inside the kit, along with your own crayons, colored pencils, or markers. Once it’s complete, your child has a fun toy, but it can also be a science experiment! Read the information below to your child and then have fun with the pinwheel experiment. 

It’s hard to see wind, but it’s easy to see the wind at work. Look at a tree on a breezy day…or try to hold on to your hat on a really windy day! You’re not seeing the actual wind, but you’re seeing the power of wind, and that power can be turned into electricity! Pretty awesome, huh? Windmills, or wind turbines, use the power of the wind to create energy that we can actually use to run things in our homes, like a refrigerator or a lamp. Wind power is better for the environment than some other forms of energy.

How does it work? It’s pretty simple. Wind turns the blades on the turbine just like wind can spin your pinwheel. The blades are connected to a rotor, which is connected to the main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity! The faster the blades turn, the more energy is generated. Try using your hands to spin them around and around each other slowly….now try spinning them super fast! Which one makes you more tired? Spinning your hands faster uses more energy, just like a wind turbine spinning faster creates more energy! 

Once you’ve made your pinwheel, take it outside on a breezy day. Try facing it in different directions. Does it spin faster when it’s facing the wind? What about when it is turned away from the wind? How about if you hold it flat out in front of you…does that make a difference? What about upside down? Wind farmers have to make sure their wind turbines are facing in the right direction to generate as much energy as possible! There are both upwind and downwind turbines. If your pinwheel could make something work, what would you want that to be? Would it power a rocket ship to the moon? Would it run a robot to clean your room? Tell your grown-up what you’d want it to do!

If you’re interested in reading more about pinwheels or wind energy, check out these books…and remember, Read Green, Live Green!

Up by Joe Cepeda

Catch the Wind by Anne Johnson

Wind Energy: Putting the Wind to Work by Jessie Alkire

Energy Island:  How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World by Allan Drummond

Wind Power by Rebecca Pettiford